Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

Eastern Mediterrean I

History of Eastern Mediterrean

Epipalaeolithic Near East

Levantine Aurignacian

Ohalo

Kebaran Industry

Natufian Culture

Natufian Language

Haplogroup J1

Marker P58

Cluster of P58

Haplogroup T

Genetical Landscape

Mushabian Culture

Iberomaurusian

Capsian

Khiamian

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

Tell Aswad

End of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

Pottery Neolithic

Pre-Pottery Neolithic C

Genetical Landscape

Time Frame

Semitic Languages

Epipalaeolithic Near East 

The Epipalaeolithic Near East designates the Epipalaeolithic (“Final Old Stone Age”, also known as Mesolithic) in the prehistory of the Near East. It is the period after the Upper Palaeolithic and before the Neolithic, between approximately 20,000 and 10,000 years BP.

The people of the Epipalaeolithic were nomadic hunter-gatherers that generally lived in small, seasonal camps rather than permanent villages. These so-called Mesolithic sites of Asia are far less numerous than those of the Neolithic and the archeological remains are very poor.

They made sophisticated stone tools using microliths — small, finely-produced blades that were hafted in wooden implements—which are the primary means by which archaeologists recognise and classify Epipalaeolithic sites.

The start of the Epipalaeolithic is defined by the appearance of microliths. Although this is an arbitrary boundary, the Epipalaeolithic does differ significantly from the preceding Upper Palaeolithic. Epipalaeolithic sites are more numerous, better preserved and can be accurately radiocarbon dated.

The period also coincides with the gradual retreat of glacial climatic conditions between the Last Glacial Maximum and the start of the Holocene and is characterised by population growth and economic intensification.

The Epipalaeolithic ended with the “Neolithic Revolution” and the onset of domestication, food production, and sedentism – although archaeologists now recognise that these trends began in the Epipalaeolithic.

Mousterian

Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the Old Stone Age.

The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France. Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, racloirs and points constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique or another prepared-core technique was employed in making the flint flakes.

Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from between 300,000 BP and 30,000 BP (from Layer 2A dated 330 ± 5 ka, (OIS) 9 at Pradayrol, France).

In Northern Africa and the Near East they were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those produced by Qafzeh type modern humans.

It may be an example of acculturation of modern humans by Neanderthals because the culture after 130,000 years reached the Levant from Europe (the first Mousterian industry appears there 200,000 BP) and the modern Qafzeh type humans appear in the Levant another 100,000 years later.

Possible variants are Denticulate , Charentian (Ferrassie & Quina) named after the Charente region. Typical and the Acheulean Tradition (MTA) – Type-A and Type-B. The Industry was superseded by the Châtelperronian during 35,000-29,000 BP.

Emirian

The Emirian culture represents the transition between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine). It apparently developed from the local Mousterian without rupture, keeping numerous elements of the Levalloise-Mousterian, together with the locally typical (but not frequent) point known as Emireh point. There are also numerous stone blade tools, including some curved knives similar to those found in the Chatelperronian culture of Western Europe.

The Emirian eventually evolved into the Upper Paleolithic Antelian culture in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine), still of Levalloise tradition but with some Aurignacian influences. The most important innovation in this period is the incorporation of some typical elements of Aurignacian, like some types of burins and narrow blade points that resemble the European type of Font-Yves.

Levantine Aurignacian

The Early Epipaleolithic, also known as Kebaran, followed the Upper Paleolithic the Athlitian phase of the Upper Paleolithic Levantine Aurignacian (32,000-26,000 BP) of the Near-Eastern Levant, formerly called Antelian period, throughout the Levant. The type site is Kebara Cave south of Haifa.

The Levantine Aurignacian was named so because of the similarity of stone tools and in the manufacture of blades and in the processing of bone tools with the Aurignacian culture in Europe. The Levantine Aurignacian used to be called Lower and Upper Antelian in old sources, from the site of Wadi Antelias in Lebanon.

The carving of a horse with traces of a layer of ocher painting from Hayonim Cave, now in the Israel Museum, is generally categorized as Aurignacian and variously dated to 40,000-18,500 BP. This may be one of the earliest known manifestation of human art, together with the ocher pieces of Blombos Cave, before the outpouring of parietal art in Europe.

The Levantine Aurignacian follows chronologically the Emiran and Early Ahmarian in the same area of the Near East, and closely related to them. The Levantine Aurignacian is part of the technological shift from Middle Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic, but the arrival of modern humans Homo sapiens in the Levant still predates the Levantine Aurignacian by tens of thousands of years.

The earliest Upper Paleolithic entity is the local Ahmarian, with the first full-fledged blade/bladelet technology, to which the Levantine Aurignacian succeeds, possibly after a few thousand years of co-existence. There is a possibility that the Levantine Aurignacian was the result of reverse influence from the European Aurignacian, but this remains unsettled.

The Emiran period and the Ahmarian period form the very first periods of the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to the first stages of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa. From this stage, the first modern humans probably migrated to Europe to form the beginning of the European Upper Paleolithic, including the Aurignacian culture.

By the end of the Levantine Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called microliths and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts.

By 18,000 BP the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition. The Levant became more arid and the forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The cool and dry period ended at the beginning of Mesolithic 1.

The hunter-gatherers of the Aurignacian would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions. The crystallization of these new patterns resulted in Mesolithic 1. New types of settlements and new stone industries developed.

The inhabitants of a small Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant left little more than their chipped stone tools behind. The industry was of small tools made of bladelets struck off single-platform cores. Besides bladelets, burins and end-scrapers were found. A few bone tools and some ground stone have also been found.

 

By the end of the Levantine Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called microliths and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts.

By 18,000 BP the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition. The Levant became more arid and the forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The cool and dry period ended at the beginning of Mesolithic 1.

The hunter-gatherers of the Aurignacian would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions. The crystallization of these new patterns resulted in Mesolithic 1. New types of settlements and new stone industries developed.

The inhabitants of a small Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant left little more than their chipped stone tools behind. The industry was of small tools made of bladelets struck off single-platform cores. Besides bladelets, burins and end-scrapers were found. A few bone tools and some ground stone have also been found.

 

Ohalo

Newer discoveries show that in the Middle East and Anatolia some experiments with agriculture were being made by 10,900 BCE. and that there may already have been experimenting with wild grain processing by around 19,000 BCE at Ohalo II.

Ohalo (also Ohalo II) is the common designation for the archaeological site Ohalo II  located on the southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel’s Rift Valley. It is one of the best preserved hunter-gatherer archaeological sites of the Last Glacial Maximum, having been radiocarbon dated to around 23,000 BP. It is at the junction of the Upper Paleolithic and the Epipaleolithic, and has been attributed to both periods.

The site is significant because of the numerous fruit and cereal grain remains preserved in anaerobic conditions under silt and water. Intact ancient plant remains are exceedingly rare due to their general quick decomposition.

The site is significant for two findings which are the world’s oldest: the earliest brushwood dwellings and evidence for the earliest small-scale plant cultivation, some 11,000 years before the onset of agriculture. The site consists of the remains of six charcoal rings where brushwood dwellings had been during the Upper Paleolithic.

Use-wear analysis of five glossed flint blades found at Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel, provides the earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools. The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally.

The studied tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle. The finds shed new light on cereal harvesting techniques some 8,000 years before the Natufian and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East. Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.

Archeologists have conducted an exhaustive study of Hut 1 at Ohalo II; this hut yielded over 90,000 seeds. The seeds account for more than 100 species of wild barley and fruits. Such a high concentration of seeds in the hut makes it highly unlikely that they were accidentally deposited into the hut via natural forces such as wind.

A 2015 study reported that its “findings represent the earliest indications for the presence of proto-weeds in a site predating the Neolithic plant domestication by some 11,000 years. This study shows for the first time that proto-weeds grew in the vicinity of human camps and most probably also in small-scale, cultivated plots.

The exact spatial distribution of the seed around a grinding stone further indicates extensive preparation. The seeds were scattered in a U-shape around the grinding stone, Weiss hypothesized that a woman was squatting at the open end of the U, and actively distributing the seeds all around her while grinding.

Kebaran Industry

The Early Epipaleolithic, also known as Kebaran, followed the Upper Paleolithic Athlitian phase of the Levantine Aurignacian (formerly called Antelian) period throughout the Levant and was followed by the proto-agrarian Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic.

The Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 10,000 BC), named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran is the last Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine).

The period may be subdivided into Early, corresponding to the Kebaran culture (20,000 to 14,500 BP), the Middle, corresponding to the Geometric Kebaran or late phase of the Kebaran, and the Late Epipaleolithic, corresponding to the Natufian (12.500–9500 BC).

The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who utilized microlithic tools. It is characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools. It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution.

The Kebaran people are believed to have practiced dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in their toolkits.

Situated in the Terminal Pleistocene, the Kebaran is classified as an Epipalaeolithic society. They are generally thought to have been ancestral to the later Natufian culture that occupied much of the same range.

The Kebaran was characterized by small, geometric microliths, and were thought to lack the specialized grinders and pounders found in later Near Eastern cultures. The appearance of the Kebarian culture, of microlithic type implies a significant rupture in the cultural continuity of Levantine Upper Paleolithic.

The earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools are glossed flint blades that have been found at the site of Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel. The Ohalo site is at the junction of the Upper Paleolithic and the Early Epipaleolithic, and has been attributed to both periods.

The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally. The study shows that the tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle.

The finds reveal the existence of cereal harvesting techniques and tools some 8000 years before the Natufian, and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East during the Neolithic Revolution. Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.

The Kebaran culture, with its use of microliths, is associated with the use of the bow and arrow and the domestication of the dog. The Kebaran is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools.

It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution. The Kebaran people are believed to have practiced dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in their toolkits.

Evidence for symbolic behavior of Late Pleistocene foragers in the Levant has been found in engraved limestone plaquettes from the Epipaleolithic open-air site Ein Qashish South in the Jezreel Valley, Israel.

The engravings were uncovered in Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran deposits (ca. 23,000 and ca. 16,500 BP), and include the image of a bird, the first figurative representation known so far from a pre-Natufian Epipaleolithic site, together with geometric motifs such as chevrons, cross-hatchings and ladders.

Some of the engravings closely resemble roughly contemporary European finds, and may be interpreted as “systems of notations” or “artificial memory systems” related to the timing of seasonal resources and related important events for nomadic groups. Similarly looking signs and patterns are well known from the context of the local Natufian, a final Epipaleolithic period when sedentary or semi-sedentary foragers started practicing agriculture.

 

The Kebaran period may be subdivided into Early, corresponding to the Kebaran culture (20,000 to 14,500 BP), the Middle, corresponding to the Geometric Kebaran or late phase of the Kebaran, and the Late Epipaleolithic, corresponding to the Natufian (12.500–9500 BC).

The Kebaran was characterized by small, geometric microliths, and were thought to lack the specialized grinders and pounders found in later Near Eastern cultures. The appearance of the Kebarian culture, of microlithic type implies a significant rupture in the cultural continuity of Levantine Upper Paleolithic.

The earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools are glossed flint blades that have been found at the site of Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel. The Ohalo site is at the junction of the Upper Paleolithic and the Early Epipaleolithic, and has been attributed to both periods.

The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally. The study shows that the tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle.

The finds reveal the existence of cereal harvesting techniques and tools some 8000 years before the Natufian, and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East during the Neolithic Revolution. Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.

The Kebaran culture, with its use of microliths, is associated with the use of the bow and arrow and the domestication of the dog. The Kebaran is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools.

It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution. The Kebaran people are believed to have practiced dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in their toolkits.

Evidence for symbolic behavior of Late Pleistocene foragers in the Levant has been found in engraved limestone plaquettes from the Epipaleolithic open-air site Ein Qashish South in the Jezreel Valley, Israel.

The engravings were uncovered in Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran deposits (ca. 23,000 and ca. 16,500 BP), and include the image of a bird, the first figurative representation known so far from a pre-Natufian Epipaleolithic site, together with geometric motifs such as chevrons, cross-hatchings and ladders.

Some of the engravings closely resemble roughly contemporary European finds, and may be interpreted as “systems of notations” or “artificial memory systems” related to the timing of seasonal resources and related important events for nomadic groups.

Similarly looking signs and patterns are well known from the context of the local Natufian, a final Epipaleolithic period when sedentary or semi-sedentary foragers started practicing agriculture. The Kebaran is generally thought to have been ancestrals to the later proto-agrarian Natufian culture that occupied much of the same range.

Natufian Culture

The Kebaran is generally thought to have been ancestrals to the later proto-agrarian Natufian culture (13,000 to 9,800 BP), an Epipaleolithic culture that occupied much of the same range in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Radiocarbon dating places this culture from the terminal Pleistocene to the very beginning of the Holocene, from 12,500 to 9,500 BC. The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas.

Dorothy Garrod coined the term Natufian based on her excavations at Shuqba cave (Wadi an-Natuf) in the western Judean Mountains, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. The following period is often called the Pre-Pottery Neolithic; in the Levant, unlike elsewhere, “Mesolithic pottery” is not talked of. This period is characterized by the early rise of agriculture that would later emerge into the Neolithic period.

The Natufian period is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500–10,800 BC) and Late Natufian (10,800–9500 BC). The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas (10,800 to 9500 BC).

The Natufian overlaps with the incipient Neolithic Revolution, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (12,000-10,800). The PPNA and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (10,800 – 8500 BP) were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine).

During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic. Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period, which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP.

The Natufian culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction of agriculture. Natufians founded a settlement where Jericho is today, which may therefore be the longest continuously inhabited urban area on Earth.

The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Natufians founded a settlement where Jericho is today, which may therefore be the longest continuously inhabited urban area on Earth.

There is some evidence for the deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at the Tell Abu Hureyra site, the site for earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians made use of wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making has been found at Shubayqa 1, a 14,500-year-old site in Jordan’s northeastern desert. In addition, the oldest known evidence of beer, dating to approximately 13,000 BP, was found at the Raqefet Cave in Mount Carmel near Haifa in Israel. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

There is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians. Archaeogenetics have revealed derivation of later (Neolithic to Bronze Age) Levantines primarily from Natufians, besides substantial admixture from Chalcholithic Anatolians.

In the Levant, there are more than a hundred kinds of cereals, fruits, nuts and other edible parts of plants, and the flora of the Levant during the Natufian period was not the dry, barren, and thorny landscape of today, but parkland and woodland.

The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran complex, and is generally seen as a successor which developed from at least elements within that earlier culture. There were also other cultures in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran, and sometimes also seen as having played a role in the development of the Natufian.

More generally there has been discussion of the similarities of these cultures with those found in coastal North Africa. Graeme Barker notes there are: “similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary”.

Ofer Bar-Yosef has argued that there are signs of influences coming from North Africa to the Levant, citing the microburin technique and “microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points.” But recent research has shown that the presence of arched backed bladelets, La Mouillah points, and the use of the microburin technique was already apparent in the Nebekian industry of the Eastern Levant, and Maher et al. state that, “Many technological nuances that have often been highlighted as significant during the Natufian were already present during the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic and do not, in most cases, represent a radical departure in knowledge, tradition, or behavior.”

Authors such as Christopher Ehret have built upon the little evidence available to develop scenarios of intensive usage of plants having built up first in North Africa, as a precursor to the development of true farming in the Fertile Crescent, but such suggestions are considered highly speculative until more North African archaeological evidence can be gathered. In fact, Weiss et al. have shown that the earliest known intensive usage of plants was in the Levant 23,000 years ago at the Ohalo II site.

Anthropologist C. Loring Brace in a recent study on cranial metric traits however, was also able to identify a “clear link” to North African populations for early Natufians based on his observation of gross anatomical similarity with extant populations found mostly in the Sahara. Brace believes that these populations later became assimilated into the broader continuum of Southwest Asian populations.

According to Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, “It seems that certain preadaptive traits, developed already by the Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran populations within the Mediterranean park forest, played an important role in the emergence of the new socioeconomic system known as the Natufian culture.”

According to one theory, it was a sudden change in climate, the Younger Dryas event (ca. 10800 to 9500 BC), that inspired the development of agriculture. The Younger Dryas was a 1,000-year-long interruption in the higher temperatures prevailing since the Last Glacial Maximum, which produced a sudden drought in the Levant.

This would have endangered the wild cereals, which could no longer compete with dryland scrub, but upon which the population had become dependent to sustain a relatively large sedentary population. By artificially clearing scrub and planting seeds obtained from elsewhere, they began to practice agriculture. However, this theory of the origin of agriculture is controversial in the scientific community.

It is at Natufian sites that some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the dog is found. At the Natufian site of Ain Mallaha in Israel, dated to 12 000 BC, the remains of an elderly human and a four-to-five-month-old puppy were found buried together. At another Natufian site at the cave of Hayonim, humans were found buried with two canids.

Natufian Language

While the period involved makes it difficult to speculate on any language associated with the Natufian culture, linguists who believe it is possible to speculate this far back in time have written on this subject.

As with other Natufian subjects, opinions tend to either emphasize North African connections or Eurasian connections. Hence Alexander Militarev and others have argued that the Natufian may represent the culture which spoke Proto-Afroasiatic which he in turn believes has a Eurasian origin associated with the concept of Nostratic languages.

Some scholars, for example Christopher Ehret, Roger Blench and others, contend that the Afroasiatic Urheimat is to be found in North or North East Africa, probably in the area of Egypt, the Sahara, Horn of Africa or Sudan Within this group, Christopher Ehret, who like Militarev believes Afroasiatic may already have been in existence in the Natufian period, would associate Natufians only with the Near Eastern pre-Proto-Semitic branch of Afroasiatic.

There is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians. Archaeogenetics have revealed derivation of later (Neolithic to Bronze Age) Levantines primarily from Natufians, besides substantial admixture from Chalcholithic Anatolians.

The Natufian overlaps with the incipient Neolithic Revolution, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (12,000-10,800). The PPNA and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (10,800 – 8500 BP) were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine).

While the period involved makes it difficult to speculate on any language associated with the Natufian culture, linguists who believe it is possible to speculate this far back in time have written on this subject.

As with other Natufian subjects, opinions tend to either emphasize North African connections or Asian connections. The view that the Natufians spoke an Afro-Asiatic language is accepted by Vitaly Shevoroshkin.

The broader macro-family of Afroasiatic languages, also known as Afrasian and in older sources as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic) or Semito-Hamitic, a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel.

Afroasiatic languages have over 495 million native speakers, the fourth largest number of any language family (after Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan and Niger–Congo). The phylum has six branches: Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, Egyptian, Omotic and Semitic. By far the most widely spoken Afroasiatic language or dialect continuum is Arabic.

In addition to languages spoken today, Afroasiatic includes several important ancient languages, such as Ancient Egyptian, which forms a distinct branch of the family, and Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew and Old Aramaic, all of which are from the Semitic branch.

The original homeland of the Afroasiatic family, and when the parent language (i.e. Proto-Afroasiatic) was spoken, are yet to be agreed upon by historical linguists. Proposed locations include North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Sahara and the Levant.

Alexander Militarev and others have argued that the Natufian may represent the culture that spoke the proto-Afroasiatic language, which he in turn believes has a Eurasian origin associated with the concept of Nostratic languages.

The possibility of Natufians speaking proto-Afro-Asiatic, and that the language was introduced into Africa from the Levant, is approved by Colin Renfrew with caution, as a possible hypothesis for proto-Afro-Asiatic dispersal.

Some scholars, for example Christopher Ehret, Roger Blench and others, contend that the Afroasiatic Urheimat is to be found in North or Northeast Africa, probably in the area of Egypt, the Sahara, Horn of Africa or Sudan.

Within this group, Ehret, who like Militarev believes Afroasiatic may already have been in existence in the Natufian period, would associate Natufians only with the Near Eastern pre-proto-Semitic branch of Afroasiatic. The hypothesis is supported by the Afroasiatic terms for early livestock and crops in both Anatolia and Iran.

Some geneticists and archaeologists have argued for a back-migration of proto-Afroasiatic speakers from Western Asia to Africa as early as the 10th millennium BC. They suggest the Natufian culture might have spoken a proto-Afroasiatic language just prior to its disintegration into sub-languages. 

Ehret has hypothesized that genetic analyses (specifically those of Y chromosome phylogeography and TaqI 49a,f haplotypes) shows populations of proto-Semitic speakers may have moved from the Horn of Africa or southeastern Sahara northwards to the Nile Valley, northwest Africa, the Levant, and Aegean.

Nomadic pastoralism

Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism when livestock are herded in order to find fresh pastures on which to graze. The herded livestock include cows, buffalos, yaks, llamas, sheep, goats, reindeer, horses, donkeys or camels, or mixtures of species.

Nomadic pastoralism was a result of the Neolithic revolution and the rise of agriculture. During that revolution, humans began domesticating animals and plants for food and started forming cities.

Nomadism generally has existed in symbiosis with such settled cultures trading animal products (meat, hides, wool, cheese and other animal products) for manufactured items not produced by the nomadic herders.

In the past it was asserted that pastoral nomads left no presence archaeologically or were impoverished, but this has now been challenged, and was clearly not so for many ancient Eurasian nomads, who have left very rich kurgan burial sites.

Pastoral nomadic sites are identified based on their location outside the zone of agriculture, the absence of grains or grain-processing equipment, limited and characteristic architecture, a predominance of sheep and goat bones, and by ethnographic analogy to modern pastoral nomadic peoples.

It is tentatively suggested that the Shepherd Neolithic industry (10200 – 8,800 BC) may date to the Epipaleolithic Epipaleolithic, as it is evidently not Paleolithic, Mesolithic or even Pottery Neolithic, and that it may have been used by one of the first cultures of nomadic shepherds in the Beqaa valley.

The Shepherd Neolithic industry, a name given by archaeologists to a style (or industry) of small flint tools from the Hermel plains in the north Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, has been insufficiently studied. Not enough exploration had been carried out to conclude whether the bands of Neolithic surface sites continues south into the areas around Zahle and Rayak.

Shepherd Neolithic material can be found dispersed over a wide area of the north Beqaa Valley in low concentrations. It is suggested that the flints were of a higher quality than the brittle flint in the nearby conglomerates indicating origin from elsewhere.

The relationship and dividing line between the related Heavy Neolithic (alternatively, Gigantolithic) zone of the south Beqaa Valley could also not be clearly defined but was suggested to be in the area around Douris and Qalaat Tannour.

Heavy Neolithic is a style of large stone and flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with the Qaraoun culture in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, dating to the Epipaleolithic or early Pre-Pottery Neolithic at the end of the Stone Age.

The Qaraoun culture is a culture of the Lebanese Stone Age around Qaraoun in the Beqaa Valley. The Gigantolithic or Heavy Neolithic flint tool industry of this culture was recognized as a particular Neolithic variant of the Lebanese highlands.

Andrew Sherratt demonstrates that early farming populations used livestock mainly for meat, and that other applications were explored as agriculturalists adapted to new conditions, especially in the semi‐arid zone.

Heavy Neolithic and Shepherd Neolithic

Heavy Neolithic (alternatively, Gigantolithic) is a style of large stone and flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with the Qaraoun culture in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, dating to the Epipaleolithic or early Pre-pottery Neolithic at the end of the Stone Age. The type site for the Qaraoun culture is Qaraoun II.

The term “Heavy Neolithic” was translated by Lorraine Copeland and Peter J. Wescombe from Henri Fleisch’s term “gros Neolithique”, suggested by Dorothy Garrod (in a letter dated February 1965) for adoption to describe the particular flint industry that was identified at sites near Qaraoun in the Beqaa Valley. The industry was also termed “Gigantolithic” and confirmed as Neolithic by Alfred Rust and Dorothy Garrod.

Gigantolithic was initially mistaken for Acheulean or Levalloisian by some scholars. Diana Kirkbride and Henri de Contenson suggested that it existed over a wide area of the fertile crescent. Heavy Neolithic industry occurred before the invention of pottery and is characterized by huge, coarse, heavy tools such as axes, picks and adzes including bifaces.

There is no evidence of polishing at the Qaraoun sites or indeed of any arrowheads, burins or millstones. Henri Fleisch noted that the culture that produced this industry may well have led a forest way of life before the dawn of agriculture. Jacques Cauvin proposed that some of the sites discovered may have been factories or workshops as many artifacts recovered were rough outs.

James Mellaart suggested the industry dated to a period before the Pottery Neolithic at Byblos (10,600 to 6900 BCE according to the ASPRO chronology) and noted “Aceramic cultures have not yet been found in excavations but they must have existed here as it is clear from Ras Shamra and from the fact that the Pre-Pottery B complex of Palestine originated in this area, just as the following Pottery Neolithic cultures can be traced back to the Lebanon.”

A notable stratified excavation of Heavy Neolithic material took place in 1963 at Adloun II (Bezez Cave), conducted by Diana Kirkbride and Dorothy Garrod, who determined a sequence stretching through the Yarbrudian, Levalloiso-Mousterian, Upper Paleolithic and on into the Heavy Neolithic. Materials extracted from the upper layers were however disturbed.

The morphology of the tools has noted similarities to the Campignian industry in France, an archaeological culture of the early Neolithic period (sixth millennium to fourth millennium B.C.) in France, named after the Campigny site in the department of Seine-Maritime. The concept of the Campignian culture was introduced in 1886 by the French archaeologist F. Salmon.

The population of the culture engaged in fishing and hunting for deer, wild horses, and oxen. Much importance was also attached to the gathering of cereal grasses (grain mortars and barley grain impressions in pottery have been discovered), which paved the way for the development of agriculture. The dog was the only domestic animal. Dwellings were round pit houses measuring 6 m in diameter.

Typical stone implements included the tranchet (a triangular chopping tool with a broad cutting edge and a handle attached to the narrow end) and the pick (axmattock, an oval tool with lateral working edges). The tools were used for woodworking (making boats, rafts, weirs). The ax-mattock was also used for digging. Polished axes appeared in later Campignian culture sites. Pottery—flat-bottomed and pointed-bottomed vessels made of clay mixed with sand and crushed shells—was made for the first time in the Campignian culture.

The industry has been found at surface stations in the Beqaa Valley and on the seaward side of the mountains. Heavy Neolithic sites were found near sources of flint and were thought to be factories or workshops where large, coarse flint tools were roughed out to work and chop timber. Chisels, flake scrapers and picks were also found with little, if any sign of arrowheads, sickles (except for Orange slices) or pottery.

Finds of waste and debris at the sites were usually plentiful, normally consisting of Orange slices, thick and crested blades, discoid, cylindrical, pyramidal or Levallois cores. Andrew Moore suggested that many of the sites were used as flint factories that complimented settlements in the surrounding hills.

The identification of Heavy Neolithic sites in Lebanon was complicated by the fact that the assemblages found at these sites included tools made with all techniques used during earlier periods. Bifaces are found both with and without a cortex, along with grattoir de cote, triangular flakes, tortoise cores, discoid cores and steep scrapers.

This presented particular problems with sites where Heavy Neolithic material was mixed with that from the Lower Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic, such as at Mejdel Anjar I and Dakoue.

Although tools similar to Heavy Neolithic ones were found at later Neolithic surfaces sites, little relationship could be established between those found at the later Neolithic tells, where flints were often sparse, especially at those of later dates.

The relationship and dividing line between the related Shepherd Neolithic zone of the north Bekaa Valley could also not be clearly defined but was suggested to be in the area around Douris and Qalaat Tannour. Not enough exploration has been carried out yet to conclude whether the bands of Neolithic surface sites continues north into the areas around Zahle and Rayak.

Finds of large quantities of seeds and a grinding stone at the paleolithic site of Ohalo II in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, dated to around 19,400 BP has shown some of the earliest evidence for advanced planning of plant food consumption and has led Ehud Weiss, an archeologist, to suggest that humans at Ohalo II processed the grain before consumption. Tell Aswad is oldest site of agriculture with domesticated emmer wheat dated by Willem van Zeist and his assistant Johanna Bakker-Heeres to 8800 BC.

Soon after came hulled, two-row barley found domesticated earliest at Jericho in the Jordan valley and Iraq ed-Dubb in Jordan. Other sites in the Levantine corridor that show the first evidence of agriculture include Wadi Faynan 16 and Netiv Hagdud. Jacques Cauvin noted that the settlers of Aswad did not domesticate on site, but “arrived, perhaps from the neighbouring Anti-Lebanon, already equipped with the seed for planting”.

The Heavy Neolithic Qaraoun culture has been identified at around fifty sites in Lebanon around the source springs of the River Jordan, however the dating of the culture has never been reliably determined.

The Qaraoun culture is a culture of the Lebanese Stone Age around Qaraoun in the Beqaa Valley. The Gigantolithic or Heavy Neolithic flint tool industry of this culture was recognized as a particular Neolithic variant of the Lebanese highlands by Henri Fleisch, who collected over one hundred flint tools within two hours on 2 September 1954 from the site. Fleisch discussed the discoveries with Alfred Rust and Dorothy Garrod, who confirmed the culture to have Neolithic elements. Garrod said that the Qaraoun culture “in the absence of all stratigaphical evidence may be regarded as mesolithic or proto-neolithic”.

Due to the disturbance of the upper layers and lack of radiocarbon dating or the materials at the time of this excavation, the placement of the Qaroun culture into the chronology of the ancient Near East remains undetermined from these excavations.

Shepherd Neolithic is a name given by archaeologists to a style (or industry) of small flint tools from the Hermel plains in the north Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. It was determined to be definitely later than the Mesolithic but without any usual forms from the Upper Paleolithic or pottery Neolithic. Henri Fleisch tentatively suggested the industry to be Epipaleolithic and suggested it may have been used by nomadic shepherds. The Shepherd Neolithic has largely been ignored and understudied following the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war.

Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism where livestock are herded in order to find fresh pastures on which to graze following an irregular pattern of movement. This is in contrast with transhumance where seasonal pastures are fixed.

The nomadic pastoralism was a result of the Neolithic revolution. During the revolution, humans began domesticating animals and plants for food and started forming cities. Nomadism generally has existed in symbiosis with such settled cultures trading animal products (meat, hides, wool, cheeses and other animal products) for manufactured items not produced by the nomadic herders. Henri Fleisch tentatively suggested the Shepherd Neolithic industry of Lebanon may date to the Epipaleolithic and that it may have been used by one of the first cultures of nomadic shepherds in the Beqaa valley.

Andrew Sherratt demonstrates that “early farming populations used livestock mainly for meat, and that other applications were explored as agriculturalists adapted to new conditions, especially in the semi‐arid zone.”

Historically nomadic herder lifestyles have led to warrior-based cultures that have made them fearsome enemies of settled people. Tribal confederations built by charismatic nomadic leaders have sometimes held sway over huge areas as incipient state structures whose stability is dependent upon the distribution of taxes, tribute and plunder taken from settled populations.

In the past it was asserted that pastoral nomads left no presence archaeologically but this has now been challenged. Pastoral nomadic sites are identified based on their location outside the zone of agriculture, the absence of grains or grain-processing equipment, limited and characteristic architecture, a predominance of sheep and goat bones, and by ethnographic analogy to modern pastoral nomadic peoples Juris Zahrins has proposed that pastoral nomadism began as a cultural lifestyle in the wake of the 6200 BC climatic crisis when Harifian hunter-gatherers fused with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B agriculturalists to produce a nomadic lifestyle based on animal domestication, developing a circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral complex, and spreading Proto-Semitic languages.

The relationship and dividing line between the related Heavy Neolithic zone of the south Beqaa Valley could also not be clearly defined but was suggested to be in the area around Douris and Qalaat Tannour. Not enough exploration had been carried out to conclude whether the bands of Neolithic surface sites continues south into the areas around Zahle and Rayak.

Along with Maqne I, a town and municipality in the Baalbek District of the Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon, Qaa is a type site of the Shepherd Neolithic industry. The site is located 5 miles (8.0 km) north west of the town, north of a path leading from Qaa to Hermel. It was discovered by M. Billaux and the materials recovered were documented by Henri Fleisch in 1966.

The area was lightly cultivated with a thin soil covering the conglomerates. The flints were divided into three groups of a reddish brown, light brown and one that was mostly chocolate and grey colored with a radiant “desert shine”.

It was one of the most important Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest. From here, and other ports, a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded.

Haplogroup J1

Haplogroup J (J-M304), also known as J, is believed to have evolved in Western Asia. The clade spread from there during the Neolithic, primarily into North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Socotra, the Caucasus, Southern Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. It is believed to have arisen in the region 31,700±12,800 years ago, and is today the most common human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup in the Middle East.

Haplogroup J-M304 is believed to have split from the haplogroup I-M170 roughly 43,000 years ago in Western Asia, as both lineages are haplogroup IJ subclades. Haplogroup IJ and haplogroup K derive from haplogroup IJK, and only at this level of classification does haplogroup IJK join with Haplogroup G-M201 and Haplogroup H as immediate descendants of Haplogroup F-M89.

J-M304 is defined by the M304 genetic marker, or the equivalent 12f2.1 marker. The main current subgroups J-M267 and J-M172, which now comprise between them almost all of the haplogroup’s descendant lineages, are both believed to have arisen very early, at least 10,000 years ago. Nonetheless, Y-chromosomes F-M89* and IJ-M429* were reported to have been observed in the Iranian plateau.

On the other hand, it would seem to be that different episodes of populace movement had impacted southeast Europe, as well as the role of the Balkans as a long-standing corridor to Europe from the Near East is shown by the phylogenetic unification of Hgs I and J by the basal M429 mutation.

This proof of common ancestry suggests that ancestral Hgs IJ-M429* probably would have entered Europe through the Balkan track sometime before the LGM. They then subsequently split into Hg J and Hg I in Middle East and Europe in a typical disjunctive phylogeographic pattern.

Such a geographic hall is prone to have encountered extra consequent gene streams, including the horticultural settlers. Moreover, the unification of haplogroups IJK creates evolutionary distance from F–H delegates, as well as supporting the inference that both IJ-M429 and KT-M9 arose closer to the Middle East than Central or East Asia.

The two main current subgroups of J, J1 (J-M267) and J2 (J-M172), which now comprise between them almost all of the population of the haplogroup, are both believed to have arisen very early, at least 10,000 years ago. Nonetheless, Y-chromosomes F-M89* and IJ-M429* were reported to have been observed in the Iranian plateau.

The first J1 men lived in the Late Upper Paleolithic, shortly before the end of the last Ice Age. The oldest identified J1 sample to date comes from Satsurblia cave (c. 13200 BC) in Georgia, placing the origins of haplogroup J1 in all likelihood in the region around the Caucasus, Zagros, Taurus and eastern Anatolia during the Upper Paleolithic.

The greatest genetic diversity of J1 haplotypes was found in eastern Anatolia, near Lake Van in central Kurdistan. Eastern Anatolia and the Zagros mountains are the region where goats and sheep were first domesticated, some 11,000 years ago.

Out of its native Asian Continent, it’s found at very high frequencies in Sudan. It’s also found at lesser extent in parts of the Caucasus, Ethiopia and parts of North Africa and amongst Jewish groups, especially those with Cohen surnames. It can also be found much less commonly, but still occasionally in significant amounts, in parts of southern Europe and as far east as Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

Since the discovery of haplogroup J-P209 it has generally been recognized that it shows signs of having originated in or near West Asia. The frequency and diversity of both its major branches, J-M267 and J-M172, in that region makes them candidates as genetic markers of the spread of farming technology during the Neolithic, which is proposed to have had a major impact upon human populations.

Like many other successful lineages from the Middle East, J1 is thought to have undergone a major population expansion during the Neolithic period. J1-P58 started expanding 9,000 to 10,000 years ago as pastoralists from the Fertile Crescent.

Although they did not analyze the other branches, it is likely that all surviving J1a1b (L136) lineages share the same origin as goat and sheep herders from the Taurus and Zagros mountains. The mountainous terrain of the Caucasus, Anatolia and modern Iran, which wasn’t suitable for early cereal farming, was an ideal ground for goat and sheep herding and catalyzed the propagation of J1 pastoralists.

Having colonised most of Anatolia, J1 herders would have settled the mountainous regions of Europe, including the southern Balkans, the Carpathians, central and southern Italy (Apennines, Sicily, Sardinia), southern France (especially Auvergne), and most of the Iberian peninsula. Hotspots of J1 in northern Spain (Cantabria, Asturias) appear to be essentially lineages descended from these Southwest Asian Neolithic herders.

Most J1 Europeans belong to the J1-Z1828 branch, which is also found in Anatolia and the Caucasus, but not in Arabic countries. The Z1842 subclade of Z1828 is the most common variety of J1 in Armenia and Georgia. There are also two other minor European branches: J1-Z2223, which has been found in Anatolia and Western Europe, and J1-M365.1, also found a bit everywhere across Western Europe.

Their very upstream position in the phylogenetic tree and their scarcity in the Middle East suggests that these were among the earliest J1 lineages to leave the Middle East, perhaps as Late Paleolithic or Mesolithic hunter-gatherers that wandered outside Anatolia and, pushed by successive waves of migrations from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, ended up in Western Europe.

Within the Middle East, SNP analysis shows that the J1-L136 branch migrated south from eastern Anatolia and split in four directions: Anatolia/Europe (PF7263), the Levant, the southern Zagros (and southern Mesopotamia ?), and the mountainous south-western corner of the Arabian peninsula (mostly in Yemen), bypassing the Arabian Desert.

That latter group, consisting essentially of J1-P56 lineages, crossed the Red Sea to settle Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia. The climate would have been considerably less arid than today during the Neolithic period, allowing for a relatively easy transmigration across the Middle East with herds of goats.

Neolithic J1 goat herders were almost certainly not homogenous tribes consisting exclusively of J1 lineages, but in all likelihood a blend of J1 and  T1 lineages. Maternal lineages also correlate. Wherever J1 and T1 are found in high frequency, mtDNA haplogroups HV, N1 and U3 are also present, as well as J, K and T to a lower extent.

This is evident from the presence of both J1 and T1 in north-east Africa, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, but also in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus and the mountainous parts of southern Europe.

It is unclear whether goats were domesticated by a tribe that already comprised both J1 and T1 lineages, or if the merger between the two groups happened during the Neolithic expansion, when two separate tribes would have bumped into each others, intermixed, and thereafter propagated together.

P58 marker

The P58 marker which defines subgroup J1c3 is very prevalent in many areas where J-M267 is common, especially in parts of North Africa and throughout the Arabian peninsula. It also makes up approximately 70% of the J-M267 among the Amhara of Ethiopia. Notably, it is not common among the J-M267 of the Caucasus.

It is proposed that J-P58 (that they refer to as J1e) might have first dispersed during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period, from a geographical zone, including northeast Syria, northern Iraq and eastern Turkey toward Mediterranean Anatolia, Ismaili from southern Syria, Jordan, Palestine and northern Egypt.

It is further proposed that the Zarzian material culture may be ancestral and that this movement of people may also be linked to the dispersal of Semitic languages by hunter-herders, who moved into arid areas during periods known to have had low rainfall.

Thus, while other haplogroups including J-M267 moved out of the area with agriculturalists who followed the rainfall, populations carrying J-M267 remained with their flocks. 

According to this scenario, after the initial neolithic expansion involving Semitic languages, which possibly reached as far as Yemen, a more recent dispersal occurred during the Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age (approximately 3000–5000 BCE), and this involved the branch of Semitic which leads to the Arabic language.

It is proposed that this involved a spread of some J-P58 from the direction of Syria towards Arab populations of the Arabian Peninsula and Negev. On the other hand, later waves of dispersion in and around this area may have also had complex effects upon the distributions of some types of J-P58 in some regions.

Three regions which are particularly important to this proposal is the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine), the Eastern Anatolia, northern Iraq and western Iran, and  the southern area of Oman, Yemen and Ethiopia.

In the Levant there are a patchy distribution of J1c3 or J-P58 frequency which is difficult to interpret, and which “may reflect the complex demographic dynamics of religion and ethnicity in the region. In the Eastern Anatolia there are signs that J-M267 might have an older presence.

In the southern area of Oman, Yemen and Ethiopia there are similar signs, but this might be as a result of either sampling variability and/or demographic complexity associated with multiple founders and multiple migrations.

Cluster of P58

Studies show that J-P58 group is not only in itself very dominant in many areas where J-M267 or J1 are common, but it also contains a large cluster which had been recognized before the discovery of P58. It is still a subject of research though.

This relatively young cluster, compared to J-M267 overall, was identified by STR markers haplotypes – specifically YCAII as 22-22, and DYS388 having unusual repeat values of 15 or higher, instead of more typical 13. This cluster was found to be relevant in some well-publicized studies of Jewish and Palestinian populations.

More generally, since then this cluster has been found to be frequent among men in the Middle East and North Africa, but less frequent in areas of Ethiopia and Europe where J-M267 is nevertheless common. The genetical pattern is therefore similar to the pattern of J-P58 generally and may be caused by the same movements/migration of people.

This overall cluster with YCAII=22-22 and high DYS388 values have been refered to as an “Arabic” as opposed to a “Eurasian” type of J-M267. This Arabic type includes Arabic speakers from Maghreb, Sudan, Iraq and Qatar.

It is a relatively homogeneous group, implying that it might have dispersed relatively recently compared to J-M267 generally. The more diverse “Eurasian” group includes Europeans, Kurds, Iranians and Ethiopians (despite Ethiopia being outside of Eurasia), and is much more diverse.

Omanis show a mix of Eurasian pool-like and typical Arabic haplotypes as expected, considering the role of corridor played at different times by the Gulf of Oman in the dispersal of Asian and East African genes. There are also an anomalously high apparent age of Omani J-M267 when looking more generally at J-P58 and J-M267 more generally.

This cluster in turn contains three well-known related sub-clusters. First, it contains the majority of the Jewish “Cohen modal haplotype”, found among Jewish populations, but especially in men with surnames related to Cohen. It also contains the “Galilee modal haplotype” (GMH) and “Palestinian & Israeli Arab modal haplotype”, both of which are associated with Palestinian/Israeli Arabs.

The GMH is also the most frequent type of J-P209 haplotype found in north-west Africans and Yemenis, so it is not restricted to Israel and Palestine. However, this particular variant “is absent” from two particular “non-Arab Middle Eastern populations”, namely “Jews and Muslim Kurds” (even though both of these populations do have high levels of J-P209).

GMH is present in the Maghreb but also J-M267 in this region have very little diversity. J-M267 in this region is a result of two distinct migration events. Early Neolithic dispersion and expansions from the Arabian peninsula during the 700 AD.

The distribution of the entire YCAII=22-22 cluster of J-M267 in the Arabic-speaking areas of the Middle East and North Africa might in fact mainly have an origin in historical times. However, more recent studies have emphasized doubt that the Islamic expansions are old enough to completely explain the major patterns of J-M267 frequencies.

It is rejected for J-P58 as a whole, but accepted that some of the populations with low diversity, such as Bedouins from Israel, Qatar, Sudan and UAE, are tightly clustered near high-frequency haplotypes suggesting founder effects with star burst expansion in the Arabian Desert.

Any strong correlation between the Arab expansion and either the YCAII=22-22 STR-defined sub-cluster or the smaller “Galilee modal haplotype” is rejected. Only the so-called Palestinian and Israeli Arab modal have a strong correlation to an ethnic group, but it is also rare. The Cohen modal haplotype is older than 4500 years old, and maybe as much as 8600 years old – well before the supposed origin of the Cohanim.

In conclusion, it can be said it is problematic to define STR defined modals for any forensic or genealogical purposes because they were found across ethnic groups with different cultural or geographic affiliation.

The Cohen modal haplotype is extremely rare outside Jewish populations, and even within Jewish populations is mainly only found in Cohanim. By using more markers and a more restrictive definition, the estimated age of the Cohanim lineage is lower than the earler estimates, and it is consistent with a common ancestor at the approximate time of founding of the priesthood which is the source of Cohen surnames.

The correspondence between P58 and high DYS388 values, and YCAII=22-22 is not perfect. For example the J-M267 subclade of J-P58 defined by SNP M368 has DYS388=13 and YCAII=19-22, like other types of J-M267 outside the “Arabic” type of J-M267, and it is therefore believed to be an relatively old offspring of J-P58, that did not take part in the most modern waves of J-M267 expansion in the Middle East of today.

These DYS388=13 haplotypes are most common in the Georgia, Iberia regions Minor Asia most likely of Sephardic origin, and also dominantly found in the East African Solomonic dynasty the Amharic region of Ethiopia, where it is said to be ancestry of the true Yehudim thru the legendary 4th Messiah Shlomo of ancient Israel ((King Solomon)) and Queen Makeda a Queen of Shewa ((Sheba)) Balqis meaning Queen of the city Cusae (Qis or Kis) in upper Egpyt shes also known as Pharoahs daughter.

Haplogroup T

Haplogroup T emerged from haplogroup K, the ancestor of most of the Eurasian haplogroups (L, N, O, P, Q, R and T), some time between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago. The vast majority of modern members of haplogroup T belong to the T1a branch, which developed during the late glacial period, between 25,000 and 15,000 years ago, possibily in the vicinity of the Iranian Plateau.

The basal T1* subclade appears to have spread from northeastern Anatolia, into the Levant at least, with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B culture (PPNB). One carrier of haplogroup T has been identified among the remains of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site in Jordan. T1a sample was also found in the Early Neolithic Linear Pottery culture (LBK) in Germany.

Although haplogroup T is more common today in East Africa than anywhere else, it almost certainly spread from the Fertile Crescent with the rise of agriculture. Indeed, the oldest subclades and the greatest diversity of T is found in the Middle East, especially around the Fertile Crescent. The higher frequency of T in East Africa would be due to a founder effect among Neolithic farmers or pastoralists from the Middle East.

T1 is the most common descent of T-M184 haplogroup, being the lineage of more than 95% of all Eurasian T-M184 members. One of their descent lineages is found in high frequencies among northern Somali clans. However, it appears to have originated somewhere around the northern Mediterranean Basin, perhaps somewhere between Greece to the Zagros mountains.

By the end of the last glacial period, 12,000 years ago, haplogroup T had already differentiated into subclades such as T1a1a, T1a2, T1a3a and T1a3b. Deeper subclades developed in the Near East during the Early Neolithic period for several millennia before early farmers started expanding beyond the Near East.

One theory is that haplogroup T spread alongside J1 as herder-hunters in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, leaving the Zagros mountains between 9000 and 10,000 BC, reaching the Egypt and the southern Arabian peninsula around 7000 BC, then propagating from there to the Horn of Africa, and later on to Madagascar.

However, considering that J1 peaks in Yemen and Sudan, while T1 is most common in southern Egypt, Eritrea and Somalia, the two may not necessarily have spread together. They might instead have spread as separate nomadic tribes of herders who colonised the Red Sea region during the Neolithic, a period than spanned over several millennia.

Nevertheless both are found in all the Arabian peninsula, all the way from Egypt to Somalia, and in Madagascar. This contrasts with other Near Eastern haplogroups like G2a and J2, which are conspicuously absent from East Africa, and rare in the Arabian peninsula.

Nowadays, T1a subclades dating from the Neolithic found in East Africa include Y16247 (downstream of CTS2214) and Y16897. Other subclades dating from the Bronze Age (see below) are present as well, such as Y15711 and Y21004, both downstream of CTS2214.

Haplogroup T-M184, which is relatively rare in other Near Eastern populations, as well as in three of the Armenian collections tested here, represents the most prominent descent in Sasun, comprising 20.1% of the samples. The presence of this haplogroup in Ararat Valley, Gardman and Lake Van, by contrast, is more limited, composing only 3.6%, 6.3% and 3.9%, respectively.

Genetical Landscape

The migration of farmers from the Middle East into Europe is believed to have significantly influenced the genetic profile of contemporary Europeans. The Natufian culture has been the subject of various archeological investigations as the Natufian culture is generally believed to be the source of the European Neolithic.

The Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert were formidable barriers to gene flow between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. But Europe was periodically accessible to Africans due to fluctuations in the size and climate of the Sahara.

At the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa and Europe are separated by only 15 km of water. At the Suez, Eurasia is connected to Africa forming a single land mass. The Nile river valley, which runs from East Africa to the Mediterranean Sea served as a bidirectional corridor in the Sahara desert, that frequently connected people from Sub-Saharan Africa with the peoples of Eurasia.

According to ancient DNA analyses on Natufian skeletal remains from present-day northern Israel, the Natufians carried the Y-DNA (paternal) haplogroups E1b1b1b2 (xE1b1b1b2a, E1b1b1b2b) (2/5; 40%), CT (2/5; 40%), and E1b1(xE1b1a1,E1b1b1b1) (1/5; 20%). In terms of autosomal DNA, these Natufians carried around 50% of the Basal Eurasian (BE) and 50% of Western Eurasian Unknown Hunter Gather (UHG) components.

However, they were slightly distinct from the northern Anatolian populations that contributed to the peopling of Europe, who had higher Western Hunter Gatherer (WHG) inferred ancestry. Natufians were strongly genetically differentiated from Neolithic Iranian farmers from the Zagros Mountains, who were a mix of Basal Eurasians (up to 62%) and Ancient North Eurasians (ANE).

This might suggest that different strains of Basal Eurasians contributed to Natufians and Zagros farmers, as both Natufians and Zagros farmers descended from different populations of local hunter gatherers.

Contact between Natufians, other Neolithic Levantines, Caucasus Hunter Gatherers (CHG), Anatolian and Iranian farmers is believed to have decreased genetic variability among later populations in the Middle East.

The scientists suggest that the Levantine early farmers may have spread southward into East Africa, bringing along Western Eurasian and Basal Eurasian ancestral components separate from that which would arrive later in North Africa.

According to their results, the Natufians shared no genetic affinity to present-day sub-Saharan Africans. However the scientists state that they were unable to test for affinity in the Natufians to early North African populations using present-day North Africans as a reference because present-day North Africans owe most of their ancestry to back-migration from Eurasia.

Ancient DNA analysis has confirmed ancestral ties between the Natufian culture bearers and the makers of the Epipaleolithic Iberomaurusian culture of the Maghreb, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture of the Levant, the Early Neolithic Ifri n’Amr or Moussa culture of the Maghreb, the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic culture of East Africa, the Late Neolithic Kelif el Boroud culture of the Maghreb, and the Ancient Egyptian culture of the Nile Valley, with fossils associated with these early cultures all sharing a common genomic component.

A 2018 analysis of autosonal DNA found the Natufians to have a mixture of ancestral components from Western Eurasia and North Africa as well as a small sub-Saharan East African component showing affinities to the Omotic peoples of southern Ethiopia. It is suggested that this East African component may have been associated with the spread of Y-haplogroup E (particularly Y-haplogroup E-M215, also known as “E1b1b”) lineages to Western Eurasia. 

Mushabian Culture

The Mushabian culture (alternately, Mushabi or Mushabaean) is an archaeological culture suggested to have originated among the Iberomaurusians in North Africa, though once thought to have originated in the Levant.

According to Bar-Yosef the Natufian culture emerged from the mixing of the Geometric Kebaran (indigenous to the Levant) and the Mushabian (most likely North African). Ricaut et al. (2008) associate the Sub-Saharan influences detected in the Natufian samples with the migration of E1b1b lineages from North Africa to the Levantα and then into Europe.

Entering the late mesolithic Natufian culture, the E1b1b1a2 (E-V13) sub-clade has been associated with the spread of farming from the Middle East into Europe either during or just before the Neolithic transition. E1b1b1 lineages are found throughout Europe but are distributed along a South-to-North cline, with an E1b1b1a mode in the Balkans.

It has been proposed that E3b originated in sub-Saharan Africa and expanded into the Near East and northern Africa at the end of the Pleistocene. E3b lineages would have then been introduced from the Near East into southern Europe by immigrant farmers, during the Neolithic expansion.

Also, a Mesolithic population carrying Group III lineages with the M35/M215 mutation expanded northwards from sub-Saharan to North Africa and the Levant. The Levantine population of farmers that dispersed into Europe during and after the Neolithic carried these African Group III M35/M215 lineages, together with a cluster of Group VI lineages characterized by M172 and M201 mutations.

Modern analyses comparing 24 craniofacial measurements reveal a predominantly cosmopolitan population within the pre-Neolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age Fertile Crescent, supporting the view that a diverse population of peoples occupied this region during these time periods.

In particular, evidence demonstrates the presence of North European, Central European, Saharan and strong Sub-Saharan African presence within the region, especially among the Epipalaeolithic Natufians of Palestine.

These studies further argue that over time the Sub-Saharan influences would have been “diluted” out of the genetic picture due to interbreeding between Neolithic migrants from the Near East and indigenous hunter-gatherers whom they came in contact with. However, a recent study showed that Natufians had no Sub-Saharan admixture.

A contemporary desertic entity was labeled “Mushabian,” and was considered to be, on the basis of the technotypological features of its lithics, of North African origin. The fieldwork done in recent years in northern Sinai and the Negev has shown that the forms of the Mushabian microliths (mainly curved and arched backed bladelets) and the intensive use of the microburin technique was a trait foreign to previous Levantine industries, but instead is closer to the Iberomaurusian.

According to Thomas Levy the Mushabian is commonly considered to have originated in North Africa, largely on the basis of habitual of the microburin technique and general morphological similarities with some assemblages in Nubia.

According to Eric Delson a different industry, the Mushabian, is marked by steeply arched microliths and the frequent use of the microburin technique. The Mushabian is found exclusively in the arid interior southern Levant (e.g., Sinai), suggesting it could represent an arid-land adaptation.

Some researchers have noted stylistic continuities between the Mushabian and the Ibero-Maurusian of North Africa, suggesting the Mushabian may represent a migration of African groups into the southern Levant.

According to Deborah Olszewski it was commonly believed that microburin technique appeared relatively late in the Levantine Epipaleolithic sequence, perhaps being derived from microburin technique in Egypt.

Since then, however, several Jordanian sites have produced evidence of microburin technique well in advance of the latter part of the Epipaleolithic sequence. These include Wadi Uwaynid 18 and Wadi Uwaynid 14 in the Azraq region of Jordan, with radiocarbon dates between 19 800 and 18 400 BP, Tor at-Tareeq in the Wadi al-Hasa area of Jordan, with radiocarbon dates between 16 900 and 15 580 BP, and Tor Sageer, also in the Wadi al-Hasa area, with radiocarbon dates between 22 590 and 20 330 BP.

This new evidence clearly documents the use of the microburin technique in the inland Levant during the earliest phases of the Epipaleolithic. Thus, its presence at sites such as Wadi Madamagh and Tor Hamar cannot necessarily be used to link these sites to the Mushabian Complex.

According to Nigel Goring-Morris another technological shift is reflected in the approach to microlith fabrication, when backed microliths replaced finely retouched types, sometimes using the microburin technique. The introduction and systematic use of this technique in the Levant (i.e., Nebekian, Nizzanan, and later the Mushabian, Ramonian, and Natufian) are an endemic phenomenon, originating east of the Rift Valley.

Loosdrecht et al. (2018) consider that the Natufians arose from a population without SSA influences either in Morocco, Libya, or the Levant. The Natufian-related ancestral population may have been widespread across North Africa and the Near East, associated with microlithic backed bladelet technologies that started to spread out in this area by at least 25,000 BP.

However, given the absence of ancient genomic data from a similar time frame for this broader area, the epicenter of expansion, if any, for this ancestral population remains unknown.

Although the oldest Iberomaurusian microlithic bladelet technologies are found earlier in the Maghreb than their equivalents in northeastern Africa (Cyrenaica) and the earliest Natufian in the Levant, the complex sub-Saharan ancestry in Taforalt makes our individuals an unlikely proxy for the ancestral population of later Natufians who do not harbor sub-Saharan ancestry.

An epicenter in the Maghreb is plausible only if the sub-Saharan African admixture into Taforalt either postdated the expansion into the Levant orwas a locally confined phenomenon. Alternatively, placing the epicenter in Cyrenaica or the Levant requires an additional explanation for the observed archaeological chronology.

Although a migration of people from Africa bringing E-M78 lineages into the Levant took place c. 14,700 years ago it as yet cannot be linked with any of the Levantine cultures at the time (Hamran, Mushabian, Ramonian, Geometric Kebaran) or later (Natufian, Harifian, Khiamian) since all are known to have originated in the Levant.

Since a material culture cannot be connected with the E-M78 immigrants into the Levant it is likely they were assimilated into the various Levantine cultures beginning with the Ramonian culture, which was present in the Sinai 14,700 years ago.

This migration coincided with the population overflow in the Sinai and Negev that caused the Geometric Kebarans to fall back to the Mediterranean core area which in turn caused them to develop the Natufian culture as a result of the population increase in the Mediterranean park forest.

Halfan Culture

The Halfan culture (24,000–17,000 BC) flourished between 18,000 and 15,000 BC in Nubia and Egypt. One Halfan site dates to before 24,000 BC. They lived on a diet of large herd animals and the Khormusan tradition of fishing.

Although there are only a few Halfan sites and they are small in size, there is a greater concentration of artifacts, indicating that this was not a people bound to seasonal wandering, but one that had settled, at least for a time.

The Halfan is seen as the parent culture of the Ibero-Maurusian industry which spread across the Sahara and into Spain. Sometimes seen as a proto-Afro-Asiatic culture, this group is derived from the Nile River valley culture known as Halfan, dating to about 17,000 BC.

The Halfan culture was derived in turn from the Khormusan, which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival. The material remains of this culture are primarily stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings. The end of the Khormusan came around 16,000 BC and was concurrent with the development of other cultures in the region, including the Gemaian.

Iberomaurusian

The Iberomaurusian is a backed bladelet lithic industry found throughout the Maghreb near the coasts of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The culture seems to have appeared in the region from around the timing of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), somewhere between 25,000 and 22,500 BP.

It would have lasted until until the Younger Dryas, a return to glacial conditions after the Late Glacial Interstadial, which temporarily reversed the gradual climatic warming after the LGM, around 12,800 to 11,550 years BP.

The industry was originally described in 1909 by the French scholar Pallary, at the site of Abri Mouillah. It is also known from a single major site in Libya, the Haua Fteah, where the industry is locally known as “Mouillian” and “Oranian”. 

The name of the Iberomaurusian means “of Iberia and Mauritania”. Pallary (1909) coined this term to describe assemblages from the site of La Mouillah in the belief that the industry extended over the strait of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula. This theory is now generally discounted, but the name has stuck.

In Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, but not in Morocco, the industry is succeeded by the Capsian industry, whose origins are unclear. The Capsian is believed either to have spread into North-Africa from the Near East, or to have evolved from the Iberomaurusian. In Morocco and Western Algeria, the Iberomaurusian is succeeded by the Cardial culture after a long hiatus.

Mr. Luis Siret had already noticed in Southeastern Spain a Palaeolithic industry that included a microlithic toolkit: small and narrow instruments, variously retouched and with these, colouring substances, grinding tools, and hammerstones.

However, this very industry, we have noticed it in the La Mouillah shelters, close to Marnia [western Algeria]: it includes hammerstones, cores, simple and backed [à bord retaillés] blades, notched blades, an excessive profusion of very small blades with retouch on their backs and very sharp points, circular endscrapers, disks, alterative flake pebbles, and a whole set of tools for grinding colours: pebbles in greenish rock, sandstone wheels, pebbles with median depressions, still impregnated with red colour, and as colouring substances, hematites, ocre, oligist iron.

Finally, some boring tools in polished bone and objects of adornment: ellongated pebbles and shells pierced for suspension. But nothing in the way of polished stone or pottery.

What clearly distinguishes this industry is the smallness of the toolkit, especially the crescent-shaped backed blades of which one finds thousands of examples. True geometric pieces (in the shape of trapeziums) are excessively rare, barely three parts per thousand, whereas in the ancient Neolithic with pottery and polished stone, small pieces of flint with geometric shapes are very common.

Because the name of the Iberomaurusian implies Afro-European cultural contact now generally discounted, researchers have proposed other names: Mouillian or Mouillan, based on the site of La Mouillah, the Oranian, based on the Algerian region of Oran, the Epipalaeolithic or the Late Upper Palaeolithic (of Northwest African facies).

In 2013, Iberomaurusian skeletons from the prehistoric sites of Taforalt and Afalou were analyzed for ancient DNA. All of the specimens belonged to maternal clades associated with either North Africa or the northern and southern Mediterranean littoral, indicating gene flow between these areas since the Epipaleolithic. The ancient Taforalt individuals carried the mtDNA Haplogroup N subclades like U6 and M which points to population continuity in the region dating from the Iberomaurusian period.

Loosdrecht et al. (2018) analysed genome-wide data from seven ancient individuals from the Iberomaurusian Grotte des Pigeons site near Taforalt in north-eastern Morocco. The fossils were directly dated to between 15,100 and 13,900 calibrated years before present.

The scientists found that all males belonged to haplogroup E1b1b, common among Afroasiatic males. The male specimens with sufficient nuclear DNA preservation belonged to the paternal haplogroup E1b1b1a1 (M78), with one skeleton bearing the E1b1b1a1b1 parent lineage to E-V13, one male specimen belonged to E1b1b (M215*).

These Y-DNA clades 24,000 years BP had a common ancestor with the Berbers and the E1b1b1b (M123) subhaplogroup that has been observed in skeletal remains belonging to the Epipaleolithic Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures of the Levant. Maternally, the Taforalt remains bore the U6a and M1b mtDNA haplogroups, which are common among modern Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Africa.

A two-way admixture scenario using Natufian and modern sub-Saharan samples (including West Africans and the Tanzanian Hadza) as reference populations inferred that the seven Taforalt individuals are best modeled genetically as of 63.5% Natufian-related and 36.5% sub-Saharan ancestry (with the latter having both West African-like and Hadza-like affinities), with no apparent gene flow from the Epigravettian culture of Paleolithic southern Europe.

The scientists indicated that further ancient DNA testing at other Iberomaurusian archaeological sites would be necessary to determine whether the Taforalt samples were representative of the broader Iberomaurusian gene pool.

Capsian

The Iberomaurusian culture is succeeded by the Capsian, which was originally thought to have expanded into the Maghreb from the Near East, although later studies have indicated that the Iberomaurusian were the progenitors of the Capsian. It is named after the town of Gafsa in Tunisia, which was known as Capsa in Roman times.

The Capsian culture was a Mesolithic culture centered in the Maghreb, mainly in modern Tunisia and Algeria, with some lithic sites attested from southern Spain to Sicily, that lasted from about 10,000 to 6000 BP.

The Capsian industry is traditionally divided into two horizons, the Capsien typique (Typical Capsian) and the Capsien supérieur (Upper Capsian), which are sometimes found in chronostratigraphic sequence. They represent variants of one tradition, the differences between them being both typological and technological. Sometimes, a third period, the Capsian Neolithic (6,200-5,300 BP), is also specified. 

During this period, the environment of the Maghreb was open savanna, much like modern East Africa, with Mediterranean forests at higher altitudes. The Capsian diet included a wide variety of animals, ranging from aurochs and hartebeest to hares and snails; there is little evidence concerning plants eaten. During the succeeding Neolithic of Capsian Tradition, there is evidence from one site, for domesticated, probably imported, ovicaprids.

Anatomically, Capsian populations were modern Homo sapiens, traditionally classed into two variegate types: Proto-Mediterranean and Mechta-Afalou (Mechtoid), or Paleo-Berber, on the basis of cranial morphology. Some have argued that they were immigrants from the east (Natufians), whereas others argue for population continuity based on physical skeletal characteristics and other criteria.

Mechtoid are a population that inhabited parts of North Africa during the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic. They are believed to have been assimilated during the Neolithic and early Bronze Age by the makers of the ensuing Capsian culture. Craniometric analysis indicates that these Iberomaurusians were closely related to the early Holocene Capsians of the Maghreb (Tamazgha), as well as the early Holocene Kiffians of the Sahara.

Proto-Mediterranean, or Mediterranean race (also Mediterranid race), was one of the multiple sub-races into which the Caucasian race was categorised by most anthropologists in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. According to Beals and Hoijer in An Introduction to Anthropology, the Mediterranean race was traditionally regarded as one of the primary Caucasoid races next to the Nordic, Alpine and Armenoid.

According to various definitions, it was said to be prevalent in the Mediterranean Basin and areas near the Mediterranean, especially in Southern Europe, North Africa, most of Western Asia, the Middle East or Near East; western Central Asia, parts of South Asia, and parts of the Horn of Africa.

To a lesser extent, certain populations of people in western parts of Great Britain, western Ireland, and Southern Germany, despite living far from the Mediterranean, were deemed as potentially having some minority Mediterranean elements in their population, such as Bavaria, Wales and Cornwall.

Given the Capsian culture’s timescale, widespread occurrence in the Sahara, and geographic association with modern speakers of the Afroasiatic languages, it has tentatively been seen as a possible ancestor of the speakers of the modern Afroasiatic languages in North Africa. 

Nothing is known about Capsian religion, but their burial methods suggest a belief in an afterlife. Decorative art is widely found at their sites, including figurative and abstract rock art, and ochre is found coloring both tools and corpses. Ostrich eggshells were used to make beads and containers; seashells were used for necklaces. The Ibero-Maurusian practice of extracting the central incisors continued sporadically, but became rarer.

The Eburran industry (13,000 and 9,000 BC), the name of an East African tool assemblage found around Lake Nakuru in the Ol Doinyo Eburru volcano complex in the Rift Valley, Kenya, was formerly known as the “Kenya Capsian” due to similarities in the stone blade shapes to those of the North African Capsian trans-Saharan culture.

Eburran assemblages, as recovered from Gamble’s Cave and Nderit Drift, comprise large backed blades, crescent microliths, burins, and endscrapers. Some tools at Gamble’s Cave were made from obsidian.

Khiamian

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam: 10,000 – 9,500 BC) is a period of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, marking the transition between the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN).

The Khiamian owes its name to the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notches, the so-called “El Khiam points”. They have served to identify sites of this period, which are found in Israel, as well as in Jordan (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet).

Aside from the appearance of El Khiam arrow heads, the Khiamian is placed in the continuity of the Natufian, without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level itself, and not half below ground as was previously done. Otherwise, the bearers of the El Khiam culture were still hunter-gatherers, and agriculture at that time was then still rather primitive, based on what has been reported on sites of this period.

The Khiamien also sees a change occur in the symbolic aspects of culture, as evidenced by the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls. According to Jacques Cauvin, it is the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, as evidenced in the following periods of the Near-Eastern Neolithic.

 

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam: 10,000 – 9,500 BC) is a period of the Near-Eastern Neolithic marking the transition between the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN), the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.

Aside from the appearance of El Khiam arrow heads, the Khiamian is placed in the continuity of the Natufian, without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level itself, and not half below ground as was previously done.

Otherwise, the bearers of the El Khiam culture were still hunter-gatherers, and agriculture at that time was then still rather primitive, based on what has been reported on sites of this period.

The Khiamian owes its name to the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notches, the so-called “El Khiam points”. They have served to identify sites of this period, which are found in Israel, as well as in Jordan (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet).

The Khiamien also sees a change occur in the symbolic aspects of culture, as evidenced by the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls. It marks the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, as evidenced in the following periods of the Near-Eastern Neolithic.

Newer discoveries show that in the Middle East and Anatolia some experiments with agriculture were being made by 10,900 BCE. and that there may already have been experimenting with wild grain processing by around 19,000 BCE at Ohalo II.

Gesher

Gesher is an archaeological site located on the southern bank of Nahal Tavor, near kibbutz Gesher in the central Jordan Valley of Israel. It bears signs of occupation from two periods, the very early Neolithic and the Middle Bronze Age. The average of 4 Radiocarbon dating results suggested inhabitation of the settlement around 8000 BC.

During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A the site was a small village composed of a few rounded structures. Typical flint finds included a high number of el-Khiam points which Garfinkel argued, along with the relatively early date could class Gesher as a Khiamian site.

According to radiometric dates, Gesher is one of the earliest Neolithic sites in the Near East. During this period the first villages were established and the transition to agriculture occurred.

One outstanding discovery, unknown from any other Neolithic site of the period in the Near East, is a workshop for the production of basalt artifacts. The workshop produced basalt axes and various other tools which were then sent to other early Neolithic centers, such as Jericho and Netiv Hagdud.

During the Middle Bronze Age IIA, Gesher served as a cemetery. Some 20 graves have been uncovered. These are shaft graves, dug into the local sediment, used for individual burials and never reopened. Bronze spearheads and axes (including three duck-bill axes) were found in four of the graves. 

Bull Worship

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. The oldest known J2a samples at present were identified in remains from the Hotu Cave in northern Iran, dating from 9100-8600 BCE, and from Kotias Klde in Georgia, dating from 7940-7600 BCE.

This confirms that haplogroup J2 was already found around the Caucasus and the southern Caspian region during the Mesolithic period. The first appearance of J2 during the Neolithic came in the form of a 10,000 year-old J2b sample from Tepe Abdul Hosein in north-western Iran in what was then the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.

Notwithstanding its strong presence in West Asia today, haplogroup J2 does not seem to have been one of the principal lineages associated with the rise and diffusion of cereal farming from the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia to Europe.

It is likely that J2 men had settled over most of Anatolia, the South Caucasus and Iran by the end of the Last Glaciation 12,000 years ago. It is possible that J2 hunter-gatherers then goat/sheep herders also lived in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic period.

No Neolithic sample from Central or South Asia has been tested to date, but the present geographic distribution of haplogroup J2 suggests that it could initially have dispersed during the Neolithic from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia across the Iranian plateau to South Asia and Central Asia, and across the Caucasus to Russia (Volga-Ural).

The first expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE), rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant. A second expansion would have occured with the advent of metallurgy.

J2 could have been the main paternal lineage of the Kura-Araxes culture (Late Copper to Early Bronze Age), which expanded from the southern Caucasus toward northern Mesopotamia and the Levant. After that J2 could have propagated through Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean with the rise of early civilizations during the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük.

Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation.

Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN)

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) (around 8,500-5,500 BCE) represents the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. It succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic) as the domestication of plants and animals was in its beginnings and triggered by the Younger Dryas.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic is divided into Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 8,500 BCE – 7,600 BCE) and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB 7,600 BCE – 6,000 BCE). These were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine).

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event, a cool spell lasting several hundred years centred around 6200 BCE.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic precedes the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). At ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan the culture continued a few more centuries as the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in early Levantine and and Upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent dating to 10,000–8,800 BC. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine.

The lithic industry is based on blades struck from regular cores. Sickle-blades and arrowheads continue traditions from the late Natufian culture, transverse-blow axes and polished adzes appear for the first time.

As the name indicates, they had no pottery. Though as a well-preserved site at Catal Huyuk, Turkey shows they had wooden vessels. They precede the ceramic Neolithic. Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period, which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP.

The time period is characterized by tiny circular mud brick dwellings, the cultivation of crops, the hunting of wild game, and unique burial customs in which bodies were buried below the floors of dwellings. During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian).

The PPNA people built circular dome-shaped one-room huts of curved adobe bricks covered over with plastered mud. Similar circular huts are still built by peasants in northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey.

PPNA archaeological sites are much larger than those of the preceding Natufian hunter-gatherer culture, and contain traces of communal structures, such as the famous Tower of Jericho. PPNA settlements are characterized by round, semi-subterranean houses with stone foundations and terrazzo-floors.

The upper walls were constructed of unbaked clay mudbricks with plano-convex cross-sections. The hearths were small, and covered with cobbles. Heated rocks were used in cooking, which led to an accumulation of fire-cracked rock in the buildings, and almost every settlement contained storage bins made of either stones or mud-brick.

As of 2013 Gesher, modern Israel, became the earliest known of all known Neolithic sites (PPNA), with a calibrated Carbon 14 date of 10,459 BCE ± 348 years, analysis suggesting that it may have been the starting point of a Neolithic revolution. A contemporary site is Mureybet in modern Syria.

One of the most notable PPNA settlements is Jericho, thought to be the world’s first town (c. 9,000 BCE). The PPNA town contained a population of up to 2,000–3,000 people, and was protected by a massive stone wall and tower.

There is much debate over the function of the wall, for there is no evidence of any serious warfare at this time. One possibility is the wall was built to protect the salt resources of Jericho. It has also been proposed that the tower caught the shadow of the largest nearby mountain on summer solstice in order to create a sense of power in support of whatever hierarchy ruled the town’s inhabitants.

PPNA cultures are unique for their burial practices, and Kenyon (who excavated the PPNA level of Jericho) characterized them as “living with their dead”. Kenyon found no fewer than 279 burials, below floors, under household foundations, and in between walls. In the PPNB period, skulls were often dug up and reburied, or mottled with clay and (presumably) displayed.

PPNA is the first agricultural society known. The PPNA culture raised their own domesticated wheat. The bones of domesticated sheep and goats and the grains of domesticated wheat can be distinguished from the wild varieties easily.

Sedentism of this time allowed for the cultivation of local grains, such as barley and wild oats, and for storage in granaries. Sites such as Dhra′ and Jericho retained a hunting lifestyle until the PPNB period, but granaries allowed for year-round occupation.

This period of cultivation is considered “pre-domestication”, but may have begun to develop plant species into the domesticated forms they are today. Deliberate, extended-period storage was made possible by the use of “suspended floors for air circulation and protection from rodents”. This practice “precedes the emergence of domestication and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years”.

Granaries are positioned in places between other buildings early on c. 11,500 BP, however, beginning around 10,500 BP, they were moved inside houses, and by 9,500 BP storage occurred in special rooms. This change might reflect changing systems of ownership and property as granaries shifted from a communal use and ownership to become under the control of households or individuals.

It has been observed of these granaries that their “sophisticated storage systems with subfloor ventilation are a precocious development that precedes the emergence of almost all of the other elements of the Near Eastern Neolithic package.

This include domestication, large scale sedentary communities, and the entrenchment of some degree of social differentiation. Moreover, building granaries may have been the most important feature in increasing sedentism that required active community participation in new life-ways.

Sites of the PPNA culture are found all over Israel, Jordan, Syria, and northern Iraq and a similar early agricultural village of what was probably a closely related culture is found at Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey. With more sites becoming known, archaeologists have defined a number of regional variants of PPNA.

Sultanian in the Jordan River valley and southern Levant, with the type site of Jericho. Other sites include Netiv HaGdud, El-Khiam, Hatoula, and Nahal Oren. Mureybetian in the Northern Levant, defined by the finds from Mureybet IIIA, IIIB, typical: Helwan points, sickle-blades with base amenagée or short stem and terminal retouch. Other sites include Sheyk Hasan and Jerf el-Ahmar.

(Aswadian) in the Damascus Basin, defined by finds from Tell Aswad IA; typical: bipolar cores, big sickle blades, Aswad points. The ‘Aswadian’ variant recently was abolished by the work of Danielle Stordeur in her initial report from further investigations in 2001–2006. The PPNB horizon was moved back at this site, to around 10,700 BP.

Sites in “Upper Mesopotamia” include Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe, with the latter possibly being the oldest ritual complex yet discovered. Sites in central Anatolia that include the ‘mother city’ Çatalhöyük and the smaller, but older site, rivaling even Jericho in age, Aşıklı Höyük.

The spread of PPNA probably went along with the spread of a particular language across the Middle East, so PPNA culture was probably spread by one particular people who drove out or absorbed other peoples. By 7,000 BC farmers in Greek Thessaly were subsisting on cultivated emmerwheat and barley as well as domestic cattle and pigs.

Soon after 8,000 BC sedentary communities and domestic plants and animals began to appear in many areas of South-west Asia. These domesticates and allied agricultural economies were to prove both successful and adaptable to the extent that within centuries of their first appearance they had spread far outside the Fertile Crescent.

The development of early cereal agriculture is thought to have been conducted by men belonging primarily to haplogroups G2a (northern branch, from Anatolia to Europe), as well as E1b1b and T1a (southern branch, from the Levant to the Arabian peninsula and North Africa).

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage in early Levantine Neolithic culture, dating around 8000 to 7000 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. The time period is characterized by tiny circular mud brick dwellings, the cultivation of crops, the hunting of wild game, and unique burial customs in which bodies were buried below the floors of dwellings.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). During this time, pottery was yet unknown. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). PPNA succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic).

PPNA archaeological sites are much larger than those of the preceding Natufian hunter-gatherer culture, and contain traces of communal structures, such as the famous tower of Jericho. PPNA settlements are characterized by round, semi-subterranean houses with stone foundations and terrazzo-floors. The upper walls were constructed of unbaked clay mudbricks with plano-convex cross-sections. The hearths were small, and covered with cobbles. Heated rocks were used in cooking, which led to an accumulation of fire-cracked rock in the buildings, and almost every settlement contained storage bins made of either stones or mud-brick.

One of the most notable PPNA settlements is Jericho, thought to be the world’s first town (c 8000 BC). The PPNA town contained a population of up to 2000-3000 people, and was protected by a massive stone wall and tower. There is much debate over the function of the wall, for there is no evidence of any serious warfare at this time. One possibility is the wall was built to protect the salt resources of Jericho.

PPNA cultures are unique for their burial practices, and Kenyon (who excavated the PPNA level of Jericho), characterized them as “living with their dead.” Kenyon found no fewer than 279 burials, below floors, under household foundations, and in between walls. In the PPNB period, skulls were often dug up and reburied, or mottled with clay and (presumably) displayed.

The lithic industry is based on blades struck from regular cores. Sickle-blades and arrowheads continue traditions from the late Natufian culture, transverse-blow axes and polished adzes appear for the first time.

 Sedentism of this time allowed for the cultivation of local grains, such as barley and wild oats, and for storage in granaries. Sites such as Dhra′ and Jericho retained a hunting lifestyle until the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, but granaries allowed for year-round occupation. This period of cultivation is considered “pre-domestication”, but may have begun to develop plant species into the domesticated forms they are today. Deliberate, extended-period storage was made possible by the use of “suspended floors for air circulation and protection from rodents”. This practice “precedes the emergence of domestication and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years”.

Granaries are positioned in places between other buildings early on 9500 BC. However beginning around 8500 BC, they were moved inside houses, and by 7500 BC storage occurred in special rooms. This change might reflect changing systems of ownership and property as granaries shifted from a communal use and ownership to become under the control of households or individuals. It has been observed of these granaries that their “sophisticated storage systems with subfloor ventilation are a precocious development that precedes the emergence of almost all of the other elements of the Near Eastern Neolithic package—domestication, large scale sedentary communities, and the entrenchment of some degree of social differentiation.” Moreover, “Building granaries may … have been the most important feature in increasing sedentism that required active community participation in new life-ways.”

With more sites becoming known, archaeologists have defined a number of regional variants:

‘Sultanian’ in the Jordan River valley and southern Levant with the type site of Jericho. Other sites include Netiv HaGdud, El-Khiam, Hatoula and Nahal Oren.

‘Mureybetian’ in the Northern Levant. Defined by the finds from Mureybet IIIA, IIIB, typical: Helwan points, sickle-blades with base amenagée or short stem and terminal retouch. Other sites include Sheyk Hasan and Jerf el-Ahmar.

‘Aswadian’ in the Damascus Basin. Defined by finds from Tell Aswad IA. Typical: bipolar cores, big sickle blades, Aswad points. The ‘Aswadian’ variant was recently abolished by the work of Danielle Stordeur in her initial report from further investigations in 2001–2006. The PPNB horizon was moved back at this site, to around 8700 BC.

Sites in ‘Upper Mesopotamia’ include Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe.

The Tishrin Dam

The Tishrin Dam (lit. ‘October Dam’) is a dam on the Euphrates, located 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of Aleppo in Aleppo Governorate, Syria.Rescue excavations in the area that would be flooded by the dam’s reservoir have provided important information on ancient settlement in the area from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period upward.

Construction lasted between 1991 and 1999. The Tishrin Dam is the last of three dams that Syria has built on the Euphrates. The other two dams are the Tabqa Dam, finished in 1973, and the Baath Dam, finished in 1986. Syria currently plans to build a fourth dam on the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor – the Halabiye Dam.

The Tishrin Dam Reservoir has flooded an area in which numerous archaeological sites were located. To preserve or document as much information from these sites as possible, archaeological excavations were carried out at 15 of them during construction of the dam.

Among the oldest excavated and now flooded sites is Jerf el-Ahmar. The site had been occupied between 9200 and 8700 BC at the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period and the beginning of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. In its multiple occupation phases, the site contained a sequence of round and rectangular buildings.

In the later occupation levels of the site, a number of buildings have been excavated that were partly dug into the soil and had stone walls. Their size, internal division, decoration and the finds of human skulls as foundation deposits led the excavators to suggest that these buildings had a communal function.

Nahal Oren

Nahal Oren is an archaeological site on the northern bank of the wadi of Nahal Oren (Hebrew)/Wadi Fallah (Arabic) on Mount Carmel, 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Haifa, Israel. The site comprises a cave and the small terrace in front of it, which steeply descends towards the wadi floor. Kebaran (Upper Paleolithic), Natufian (Epipaleolithic) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and B (PPNA, PPNB) industries were found.

Wheat was recovered from the Nahal Oren site, but it was not certain whether it was cultivated or wild. Grain was relatively rare at the site in comparison with other food resources. The age of the emmer wheat grains found there is an indication that the cultivation of grain might have started as early as 16,000 years ago. In 1985 the three spikelets of cultivated emmer found in a Kebaran context in Wadi Oren were seen to be so early as to be considered an anomaly.

A PPNA village of some 13 subcircular houses and other structures stood on four artificial, closely set terraces. The buildings were similar to those of PPNA Jericho. Only one human burial was discovered at the PPNA village site. There were no grave goods in the burial pit, and the skeleton was complete with the exception of the skull, which had been removed – an early example of a practice better known from the later Neolithic.

The remains of the PPNB village are far more scarce, but seem to be in continuation of the PPNA phase. During Neolithic occupation, the main source of food at the site appears to have been gazelles, and judging from the high incidence of immature gazelle bones, these animals were domesticated.

The later shift to goat husbandry may have occurred because goats are less selective in their diets than gazelles, and can graze in areas where the gazelle would not fare well. Nahal Oren was occupied repeatedly over thousands of years by culture after culture, which means that it was a preferred site for occupation, rather than an occasional one.

Hatula

Hatula is an early Neolithic archeological site in the Judean hills south of Latrun, beside Nahal Nachshon, in Israel, 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Jerusalem. Radiocarbon dates for the site suggest habitation between 10150 and 9320 BC by semi-sedentary groups.

The site is 15 metres (49 ft) above the riverbed on a rocky slope in an alluvial valley. Excavations revealed three levels of occupation in the Natufian, Khiamian and PPNA (Sultanian).  Evidence suggested domesticated dogs were present at the site.

The site was excavated in eight seasons between 1981 and 1990 by Monique Lechevallier of the CNRS and Avraham Ronen from the University of Haifa. They unearthed a semi-circular dwelling with burial in the latest period. The site was suggested to have been a hunting station for flocks of gazelle.

Study of the lithic industry suggested the Khiamian was an adaptation of the Natufian in the area. Evidence of an accomplished bone industry were found but no signs of any grinding tools, art objects or building materials in the earliest two levels indicating a short term settlement pattern.

Archeaobotanical samples were taken from the Khiamian and Sultanian periods for phytolith analysis. This gave evidence of wheat at the site, along with an unidentified grass whose seeds were possibly a food source, both of which suggested that cereals may have been part of the Natufian economy in Hatula. Changes in morphology of cells from husks of the grasses suggest a larger seed content, possibly due to increased exploitation, in the Sultanian.

Jericho

Jericho (Arabic: Arīḥā; Hebrew: Yeriḥo) is a Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate, and is governed by the Palestinian National Authority. 

It is believed to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BC, providing important information about early human habitation in the Near East.  

Jericho has the oldest known protective wall in the world. It was thought to have the oldest stone tower in the world as well, but excavations at Tell Qaramel in Syria have discovered stone towers that are even older.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back to 9000 BC, almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history. 

Jericho’s Arabic name, ʼArīḥā, means “fragrant” and also has its roots in Canaanite Reaẖ. Jericho’s name in Hebrew, Yeriẖo, is generally thought to derive from the Canaanite word reaẖ (“fragrant”), but other theories hold that it originates in the Canaanite word for “moon” (Yareaẖ) or the name of the lunar deity Yarikh for whom the city was an early centre of worship.

Epipaleolithic construction at the site appears to predate the invention of agriculture, with the construction of Natufian culture structures beginning earlier than 9000 BCE, the beginning of the Holocene epoch in geologic history. 

Jericho has evidence of settlement dating back to 10,000 BCE. During the Younger Dryas period of cold and drought, permanent habitation of any one location was impossible. However, the Ein es-Sultan spring at what would become Jericho was a popular camping ground for Natufian hunter-gatherer groups, who left a scattering of crescent-shaped microlith tools behind them.

Around 9600 BCE, the droughts and cold of the Younger Dryas stadial had come to an end, making it possible for Natufian groups to extend the duration of their stay, eventually leading to year-round habitation and permanent settlement.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic at Jericho is divided in Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. The first permanent settlement on the site of Jericho developed near the Ein es-Sultan spring between 9,500 and 9000 BCE.

As the world warmed up, a new culture based on agriculture and sedentary dwelling emerged, which archaeologists have termed “Pre-Pottery Neolithic A” (abbreviated as PPNA). Its cultures lacked pottery, but featured small circular dwellings, burial of the dead under the floor of buildings, reliance on hunting of wild game and cultivation of wild or domestic cereals.

At Jericho, circular dwellings were built of clay and straw bricks left to dry in the sun, which were plastered together with a mud mortar. Each house measured about 5 metres (16 ft) across, and was roofed with mud-smeared brush. Hearths were located within and outside the homes. By about 9400 BCE, the town had grown to more than 70 modest dwellings.

The Pre-Sultan (c. 8350 – 7370 BCE) is sometimes called Sultanian. The site is a 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft) settlement surrounded by a massive stone wall over 3.6 metres (12 ft) high and 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) wide at the base (see Wall of Jericho), inside of which stood a stone tower, over 8.5 metres (28 ft) high, containing an internal staircase with 22 stone steps and placed in the centre of the west side of the tell.

The earliest settlement was located at the present-day Tell es-Sultan (or Sultan’s Hill), a couple of kilometers from the current city, dated between 8000 and 7000 BC. Copious springs in and around the city have attracted human habitation for thousands of years. Jericho is described in the Hebrew Bible as the “city of palm trees”.

In both Arabic and Hebrew, tell means “mound” – consecutive layers of habitation built up a mound over time, as is common for ancient settlements in the Middle East and Anatolia. Jericho is the type site for the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) periods. The Neolithic settlements were contemporary with Catalhoyuk and had a similar technology level.

Tell es-Sultan consisted of a number of walls, a religious shrine, and a 23-foot (7.0 m) tower with an internal staircase. This tower and the even older ones excavated at Tell Qaramel in Syria are the oldest ever to be discovered.

The wall may have served as a defence against flood-water, with the tower used for ceremonial purposes. The wall and tower were built during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period around 8000 BCE.

For the tower, carbon dates published in 1981 and 1983 indicate that it was built around 8300 BCE and stayed in use until c. 7800 BCE. The wall and tower would have taken a hundred men more than a hundred days to construct, thus suggesting some kind of social organization.

The town contained round mud-brick houses, yet no street planning. The identity and number of the inhabitants of Jericho during the PPNA period is still under debate, with estimates going as high as 2,000–3,000, and as low as 200–300. It is known that this population had domesticated emmer wheat, barley and pulses and hunted wild animals.

The following are Pre-Pottery Neolithic B cultural features, for the period from 7220 to 5850 BCE (though carbon-14-dates are few and early): Expanded range of domesticated plants, possible domestication of sheep and apparent cult involving the preservation of human skulls, with facial features reconstructed using plaster, and eyes set with shells in some cases.

After a few centuries, the first settlement was abandoned. After the PPNA settlement phase, there was a settlement hiatus of several centuries, then the PPNB settlement was founded on the eroded surface of the tell.

This second settlement, established in 6800 BCE, perhaps represents the work of an invading people who absorbed the original inhabitants into their dominant culture. Artifacts dating from this period include ten plastered human skulls, painted so as to reconstitute the individuals’ features. These represent either teraphim or the first example of portraiture in art history, and it is thought that they were kept in people’s homes while the bodies were buried.

The architecture consisted of rectilinear buildings made of mudbricks on stone foundations. The mudbricks were loaf-shaped with deep thumb prints to facilitate bonding. No building has been excavated in its entirety.

Normally, several rooms cluster around a central courtyard. There is one big room (6.5 m × 4 m (21.3 ft × 13.1 ft) and 7 m × 3 m (23.0 ft × 9.8 ft)) with internal divisions; the rest are small, presumably used for storage. The rooms have red or pinkish terrazzo-floors made of lime. Some impressions of mats made of reeds or rushes have been preserved. The courtyards have clay floors.

Kathleen Kenyon interpreted one building as a shrine. It contained a niche in the wall. A chipped pillar of volcanic stone that was found nearby might have fitted into this niche.

The dead were buried under the floors or in the rubble fill of abandoned buildings. There are several collective burials. Not all the skeletons are completely articulated, which may point to a time of exposure before burial. A skull cache contained seven skulls. The jaws were removed and the faces covered with plaster; cowries were used as eyes. A total of ten skulls were found. Modelled skulls were found in Tell Ramad and Beisamoun as well.

Other finds included flints, such as arrowheads (tanged or side-notched), finely denticulated sickle-blades, burins, scrapers, a few tranchet axes, obsidian, and green obsidian from an unknown source. There were also querns, hammerstones, and a few ground-stone axes made of greenstone.

Other items discovered included dishes and bowls carved from soft limestone, spindle whorls made of stone and possible loom weights, spatulae and drills, stylised anthropomorphic plaster figures, almost life-size, anthropomorphic and theriomorphic clay figurines, as well as shell and malachite beads.

In the late 4th millennium BCE, Jericho was occupied during Neolithic 2[dubious – discuss] and the general character of the remains on the site link it culturally with Neolithic 2 (or PPNB) sites in the West Syrian and Middle Euphrates groups. This link is established by the presence of rectilinear mud-brick buildings and plaster floors that are characteristic of the age. A succession of settlements followed from 4500 BCE onward.

 

Jericho (Arabic: Arīḥā) is a Palestinian city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is known in Judeo-Christian tradition as the place of the Israelites’ return from bondage in Egypt, led by Joshua, the successor to Moses.

Jericho is described in the Old Testament as the “City of Palm Trees.” Copious springs in and around the city attracted human habitation for thousands of years. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BC), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history.

Jericho has evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BC. During the Younger Dryas period of cold and drought, permanent habitation of any one location was not possible. However, the spring at what would become Jericho was a popular camping ground for Natufian hunter-gatherer groups, who left a scattering of crescent microlith tools behind them. Around 9600 BC the droughts and cold of the Younger Dryas Stadial had come to an end, making it possible for Natufian groups to extend the duration of their stay, eventually leading to year round habitation and permanent settlement.

The first permanent settlement was built near the Ein as-Sultan spring between 10000 and 9000 BC. As the world warmed, a new culture based on agriculture and sedentary dwelling emerged, which archaeologists have termed “Pre-Pottery Neolithic A” (abbreviated as PPNA). PPNA villages are characterized by small circular dwellings, burials of the dead within the floors of buildings, reliance on hunting wild game, the cultivation of wild or domestic cereals, and no use of pottery. At Jericho, circular dwellings were built of clay and straw bricks left to dry in the sun, which were plastered together with a mud mortar. Each house measured about 5 metres across, and was roofed with mud-smeared brush. Hearths were located within and outside the homes.

By about 9400 BC the town had grown to more than 70 modest dwellings. Population estimates have been as high as two to three thousand people, but it has been suggested that these are highly exaggerated by at least tenfold. The most striking aspect of this early town was a massive stone wall over 3.6 metres high, and 1.8 metres wide at the base. Inside this wall was a tower over 3.6 metres high, contained an internal staircase with 22 stone steps. The wall and tower were unprecedented in human history, and would have taken a hundred men more than a hundred days to construct it. The wall may have been a defence against flood water with the tower used for ceremonial purposes.

After a few centuries it was abandoned for a second settlement, established in 6800 BC, perhaps by an invading people who absorbed the original inhabitants into their dominant culture. Artifacts dating from this period include ten plastered human skulls, painted so as to reconstitute the individuals’ features. These represent the first example of portraiture in art history, and it is thought that they were kept in people’s homes while the bodies were buried. This was followed by a succession of settlements from 4500 BC onward, the largest being constructed in 2600 BC.

Archaeological evidence indicates that in the latter half of the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1700 BC) the city enjoyed some prosperity, its walls having been strengthened and expanded. According to carbon dating the Canaanite city (Jericho City IV) was destroyed between 1617 and 1530 BC. The site remained uninhabited until the city was refounded in the 9th century BC.

Ayn Ghazal

The settlement at Ayn Ghazal (“Spring of the Gazelle”) is a Neolithic archaeological site located in metropolitan Amman, Jordan, first appeared in the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (MPPNB ) and is split into two phases. Phase I starts circa 8300 BC and ends c. 7950 BC, while phase II ends c. 7550 BC.

It is situated in a relatively rich environmental setting immediately adjacent to the Zarqa River (Wadi Zarqa), the longest drainage system in highland Jordan. It is located at an elevation of about 720m within the ecotone between the oak-park woodland to the west and the open steppe-desert to the east.

The 9th millennium MPPNB period in the Levant represented a major transformation in prehistoric lifeways from small bands of mobile hunter–gatherers to large settled farming and herding villages in the Mediterranean zone, the process having been initiated some 2–3 millennia earlier.

In its prime era circa 7000 BC, the site extended over 10–15 hectares (25–37 ac) and was inhabited by ca. 3000 people (four to five times the population of contemporary Jericho). After 6500 BC, however, the population dropped sharply to about one sixth within only a few generations, probably due to environmental degradation, the 8.2 kilo-year event. In ‘Ain Ghazal, the early Pottery Neolithic period lastet from 6400 to 5000 BC.

Ain Ghazal started as a typical aceramic, Neolithic village of modest size. It was set on terraced ground in a valley-side, and was built with rectangular mud-brick houses that accommodated a square main room and a smaller anteroom. Walls were plastered with mud on the outside, and with lime plaster inside that was renewed every few years.

Evidence recovered from the excavations suggests that much of the surrounding countryside was forested and offered the inhabitants a wide variety of economic resources. Arable land is plentiful within the site’s immediate environs.

These variables are atypical of many major Neolithic sites in the Near East, several of which are located in marginal environments. Yet despite its apparent richness, the area of ‘Ain Ghazal is climatically and environmentally sensitive because of its proximity throughout the Holocene to the fluctuating steppe-forest border.

As an early farming community, the `Ain Ghazal people cultivated cereals (barley and ancient species of wheat), legumes (peas, beans and lentils) and chickpeas in fields above the village, and herded domesticated goats. In addition they hunted wild animals – deer, gazelle, equids, pigs and smaller mammals such as fox or hare.

The estimated population of the MPPNB site from ‘Ain Ghazal is of 259-1349 individuals with an area of 3.01-4.7 ha. It is argued that at its founding at the commencement of the MPPNB ‘Ain Ghazal was likely about 2 ha in size and grew to 5 ha by the end of the MPPNB. At this point in time their estimated population was 600-750 people or 125-150 people per hectare.

The diet of the occupants of PPNB ‘Ain Ghazal was remarkably varied. Domesticated plants included wheat and barley species, but legumes (primarily lentils and peas) appear to have been preferred cultigens.

A wide suite of wild plants also were consumed. The determination of domesticated animals, sensu stricto, is a topic of much debate. At PPNB ‘Ain Ghazal goats were a major species, and they were used in a domestic sense, although they may not have been morphologically domestic.

Many of the phalanges recovered exhibit pathologies that are suggestive of tethering. An impressive range of wild animal species also were consumed at the site. Over 50 taxa have been identified, including gazelle, Bos, Sus sp., Lepus, and Vulpes.

‘Ain Ghazal was in an area that was suitable for agriculture and then grew as a result of the same dynamic. Archaeologists think that throughout the mid east much of the land was exhausted after some 700 years of planting and so became unsuitable for agriculture.

The people from those small villages abandoned their unproductive fields and migrated, with their domestic animals, to places with better ecological conditions, like ‘Ain Ghazal that could support larger populations.

As opposed to other sites as new people migrated to ‘Ain Ghazal, probably with few possessions and possibly starving, class distinctions began to develop. The influx of new people placed stresses on the social fabric – new diseases, more people to feed from what was planted and more animals that needed grazing.

There are evidences of mining activities as part of a production sequence conducted by craftspersons at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal, these potential part-time specialists in some way controlled access to such raw materials.

In the earlier levels at ‘Ain Ghazal there are small ceramic figures that seem to have been used as personal or familial ritual figures. The figurines recovered were mostly from MPPNB contexts, but figurines have also been found to belong to the LPPNB and PPNC.

There are figurines of both animals and people. The vast majority of figurines are of cattle, a species that makes up only 8% of the overall number of identified specimens (NISP) count. The importance of hunted cattle to the domestic ritual sphere of ‘Ain Ghazal is telling. It was seemingly of importance for individual households to have members who participated both the hunting of cattle – likely a group activity – and the subsequent feasting on the remains.

The animal figures are of horned animals and the front part of the animal is the most clearly modeled. They all give the impression of dynamic force. Some of the animal figures have been stabbed in their vital parts; these figures have then been buried in the houses. Other figurines were burned and then discarded with the rest of the fire. They built ritual buildings and used large figurines or statues.

The actual building of them is also a way for an elite group to demonstrate and underline its authority over those who owe the community or the elite labor as service and to bond laborers together as part of a new community. In addition to the monumental statues, small clay and stone tokens, some incised with geometric or naturalistic shapes, were found at ‘Ain Ghazal.

Ain Ghazal is renowned for a set of anthropomorphic statues found buried in pits in the vicinity of some special buildings that may have had ritual functions. These statues are half-size human figures modeled in white plaster around a core of bundled twigs. The figures have painted clothes, hair, and in some cases, ornamental tattoos or body paint. The eyes are created using cowrie shells with a bitumen pupil and dioptase highlighting.

Considerable evidence for mortuary practices during the PPNB period have been described in recent years. Post-mortem skull removal, commonly restricted to the cranium, but on occasion including the mandible, and apparently following preliminary primary interments of the complete corpse. Such treatment has commonly been interpreted as representing rituals connected with veneration of the dead or some form of “ancestor worship”.

There is evidence of class in the way the dead are treated. Some people are buried in the floors of their houses as they would be at other Neolithic sites. After the flesh had wasted away some of the skulls were disinterred and decorated.

This was either a form of respect or so that they could impart their power to the house and the people in it. However, unlike other Neolithic sites, some people were thrown on trash heaps and their bodies remain intact. Scholars have estimated that a third of adult burials were found in trash pits with their heads intact. They may have seen the newcomers as a lower class.

Ain Ghazal people buried some of their dead beneath the floors of their houses, others outside in the surrounding terrain. Of those buried inside, often the head was later retrieved and the skull buried in a separate shallow pit beneath the house floor.

Also, many human remains have been found in what appear to be garbage pits where domestic waste was disposed, indicating that not every deceased was ceremoniously put to rest. Why only a small, selected portion of the inhabitants were properly buried and the majority simply disposed of remains unresolved. Burials seem to have taken place approximately every 15–20 years, indicating a rate of one burial per generation, though gender and age were not constant in this practice.

Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b2 has been found in 75% of the ‘Ain Ghazal population, along with 60% of PPNB populations (and is present in all three stages of PPNB and in most Natufians. T1a (T-M70) is found among the later MPPNB inhabitants from ‘Ain Ghazal, but was not found among the early and middle MPPNB populations.

It is thought, therefore, that the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B population is mostly composed of two different populations: members of early Natufian civilisation and a population resulting from immigration from the north, i.e. north-eastern Anatolia.

Megido

Megiddo (Hebrew: Tell al-Mutesellim) is a tell in modern Israel near Kibbutz Megiddo, about 30km south-east of Haifa, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance, especially under its Greek name Armageddon.

In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. Megiddo is strategically located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley from the west. Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria.

Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BC (the same time as the destruction of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and subsequent fall of Israelite rule and exile). Since this time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BC without settlements ever disturbing them. Instead, the town of Lajjun (not to be confused with the el-Lajjun archaeological site in Jordan) was built up near to the site, but without inhabiting or disturbing its remains.

Yarmukian – Sha’ar HaGolan (6400–6000 f.vt.):

The Yarmukian Culture is a Neolithic culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in Prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery. The Yarmukian derives its name from the Yarmouk River which flows near its type site at Sha’ar HaGolan, a kibbutz at the foot of the Golan Heights.

The first Yarmukian settlement was unearthed at Megiddo during the 1930s, but was not identified as a distinct Neolithic culture at the time. At Sha’ar HaGolan, in 1949, Prof. Moshe Stekelis first identified the Yarmukian Culture, a Pottery Neolithic culture that inhabited parts of Israel and Jordan. The site, dated to ca. 6400–6000 BC (calibrated), is located in the central Jordan Valley, on the northern bank of the Yarmouk River. Its size is circa 20 hectares, making it one of the largest settlements in the world at that time. Although other Yarmukian sites have been identified since, Sha’ar HaGolan is the largest, probably indicating its role as the Yarmukian center.

The greatest technological innovation of the Sha’ar HaGolan Neolithic was the manufacture of pottery. This industry, which appears here for the first time in Israel, gives this cultural stage its name of Pottery Neolithic. The pottery vessels are in a variety of shapes and sizes and were put to various domestic uses.

 

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, a Neolithic culture centered in upper Mesopotamia. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of northeastern Anatolia.

Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier PPNA period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet. In addition the flint tool kit of the period is new and quite disparate from that of the earlier period. One of its major elements is the naviform core.

This is the first period in which architectural styles of the southern Levant became primarily rectilinear; earlier typical dwellings were circular, elliptical and occasionally even octagonal. Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period.

During this period, one of the main features of houses is a thick layer of white clay plaster flooring, highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone. It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.

Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is a thick layer of white clay plaster flooring, highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone. It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.

The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BCE at sites such as Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley).

Sites from this period found in the Levant utilizing rectangular floor plans and plastered floor techniques were found at Ain Ghazal, Yiftahel (western Galilee), and Abu Hureyra (Upper Euphrates).

Plastered human skulls were reconstructed human skulls that were made in the ancient Levant between 9000 and 6000 BC in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period. The skulls denote some of the earliest sculptural examples of portraiture in the history of art. They represent some of the oldest forms of art in the Middle East and demonstrate that the prehistoric population took great care in burying their ancestors below their homes. 

Around 8000 BCE, before the invention of pottery, several early settlements became experts in crafting beautiful and highly sophisticated containers from stone, using materials such as alabaster or granite, and employing sand to shape and polish.

Artisans used the veins in the material to maximum visual effect. Such object have been found in abundance on the upper Euphrates river, in what is today eastern Syria, especially at the site of Bouqras. These form the early stages of the develoment of the Art of Mesopotamia.

 

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is a division of the Neolithic developed by Dame Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the southern Levant region. The period is dated to between ca. 10700 and ca. 8000 BP or 7000 – 6000 BCE.

Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet. In addition the flint tool kit of the period is new and quite disparate from that of the earlier period. One of its major elements is the naviform core.

This is the first period in which architectural styles of the southern Levant became primarily rectilinear; earlier typical dwellings were circular, elliptical and occasionally even octagonal. Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone.

It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery. Indeed, the earliest proto-pottery was White Ware Vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BC at sites such as Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley). Sites from this period found in the Levant utilizing rectangular floor plans and plastered floor techniques were found at Ain Ghazal, Yiftahel (western Galilee), and Abu Hureyra (Upper Euphrates).

Danielle Stordeur’s recent work at Tell Aswad, a large agricultural village between Mount Hermon and Damascus could not validate Henri de Contenson’s earlier suggestion of a PPNA Aswadian culture. Instead, they found evidence of a fully established PPNB culture at 8700 BC at Aswad, pushing back the period’s generally accepted start date by 1200 years.

How a PPNB culture could spring up in this location, practicing domesticated farming from 8700 BC has been the subject of speculation. Whether it created its own culture or imported traditions from the North East or Southern Levant has been considered an important question for a site that poses a problem for the scientific community.

The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.

Neba’a Faour

Neba’a Faour, Tell Neba’a Faour, Mashna’et el Faour, Neba Faour or Nebaa Faour is a large, low-lying archaeological tell mound in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon inhabited in the late 7th and early 6th millennium BC. The site was mainly composed of soil and pebbles on limestone bedrock, the site showed heavy erosion since it was abandoned and recent damage from modern construction in the area.

It has been suggested as an example of an aceramic stage following the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) that is called the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC); sites of comparable culture are Tell Ramad, Labwe and others in the Byblos region. It is generally dated between the second half of the 7th millennium and the beginning of the 6th millennium BC.

Most of the material recovered from this open cast site came from surface finds along with a 7 feet (2.1 m) to 8 feet (2.4 m) core of Neolithic deposits. Neolithic levels revealed evidence of stone-wall footings and a series of distinctive cream, lime-plaster floors.

Black, beige or brown flint was knapped at the site, and tools recovered included numerous scrapers, cores for blades, Byblos- and Amouq-point arrowheads, javelins, sickle blade elements, burins and borers. Lebanese sites of this date usually reveal heavy tools, but only two hand axes were recovered at this site. A stone bowl with a fine bead rim was also found.

The site is notable for finds of a type of precursor to clay pottery called “White Ware”, or “Vaisselle Blanche”. This was made with a type of lime plaster mixed with grey ashes, which when fired it turned into a hardened, white material that resembles limestone. Vessels were formed by coiling the plaster around baskets. Fragments of large vessels were found that are thought to have been used like “portable silos”.

Nabta Playa

Nabta Playa was once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo or about 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, 22° 32′ north, 30° 42′ east. Today the region is characterized by numerous archaeological sites.

Although at present the western Egyptian desert is totally dry, this was not the case in the past. There is good evidence that there were several humid periods in the past (when up to 500 mm of rain would fall per year) the most recent one during the last interglacial and early last glaciation periods which stretched between 130,000 and 70,000 years ago.

During this time, the area was a savanna and supported numerous animals such as extinct buffalo and large giraffes, varieties of antelope and gazelle. Beginning around the 10th millennium BC, this region of the Nubian Desert began to receive more rainfall, filling a lake. Early people may have been attracted to the region due to the source of water.

Archaeological findings may indicate human occupation in the region dating to at least somewhere around the 10th and 8th millennia BC. Fred Wendorf and Christopher Ehret have suggested that the people who occupied this region at that time were early pastoralists, or like the Saami practiced semi-pastoralism (although this is disputed by other sources because the cattle remains found at Nabta have been shown to be morphologically wild in several studies, and nearby Saharan sites such as Uan Afada in Libya were penning wild Barbary sheep, an animal that was never domesticated).

The people of that time consumed and stored wild sorghum, and used ceramics adorned by complicated painted patterns created perhaps by using combs made from fish bone and which belong to a general pottery tradition strongly associated with the southern parts of the sahara (e.g., of the Khartoum mesolithic and various contemporary sites in Chad) of that period.

Analysis of human remains by archaeologist Fred Wendorf and reported in “Holocene settlement of the Egyptian Sahara”, based on osteological data suggests a subsaharan origin for the site’s inhabitants. Several scholars also support a Nilo-Saharan linguistic affinity for the Nabta people; including the site’s discoverer, archaeologist Fred Wendorf and the linguist, Christopher Ehret.

By the 7th millennium BC, exceedingly large and organized settlements were found in the region, relying on deep wells for sources of water. Huts were constructed in straight rows. Sustenance included fruit, legumes, millets, sorghum and tubers.

Also in the late 7th millennium BC, but a little later than the time referred to above, imported goats and sheep, apparently from Southwest Asia, appear. Many large hearths also appear.

By the 6th millennium BC, evidence of a prehistoric religion or cult appears, with a number of sacrificed cattle buried in stone-roofed chambers lined with clay. It has been suggested that the associated cattle cult indicated in Nabta Playa marks an early evolution of Ancient Egypt’s Hathor cult.

By the 5th millennium BC these peoples had fashioned one of the world’s earliest known archeoastronomical devices (roughly contemporary to the Goseck circle in Germany and the Mnajdra megalithic temple complex in Malta). Research suggests that it may have been a prehistoric “calendar” marking the summer solstice.

End of PPNB

The PPNB culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of the Ghassulian culture.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of the Ghassulian culture.

The influence of the event in Europe was greatest in Central Anatolia. The flourishing and well-established settlement at Catalhöyük-East was deserted quite abruptly. The site was reoccupied later, with a shift of the settlement by approx. 200m to a new position (Çatalhöyük-West). This settlement shift marks the beginning ofthe Early Chalcolithic in Central Anatolia.

The climate event was associated with the transition from the Pre-Pottery to the Pottery Neolithic era, which was marked by the collapse of the ‘ritual economy’ and agricultural PPN aggregation centres in the Levant. This climatic anomaly correlates chronologically with the process of the neolithisation in the Near East and south-eastern Europe.

Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC) period, which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP. Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex began as a cultural lifestyle in the wake of the 6200 BC climatic crisis.  Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.

Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC) period which lasted between 8200 and 7900 BP.

Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6,200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt.

Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into Southern Iraq.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture.

Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC) period which lasted between 8200 and 7900 BP.

Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6,200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt.

Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into Southern Iraq.

The Yarmukian Culture is a Neolithic culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in Prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery. The Yarmukian derives its name from the Yarmouk River which flows near its type site at Sha’ar HaGolan, a kibbutz at the foot of the Golan Heights.

Besides the site at Sha’ar HaGolan, 20 other Yarmukian sites have been identified in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. These include:

  • Tel Megiddo (Israel)
  • Ain Ghazal (Jordan)
  • Munhata (Israel)
  • Tel Qishion (Israel)
  • Hamadiya (Israel)
  • Ain Rahub (Jordan)
  • Abu Tawwab (Jordan)

Although the Yarmukian culture occupied limited regions of northern Israel and northern Jordan, Yarmukian pottery has been found elsewhere in the region, including the Habashan Street excavations in Tel-Aviv and as far north as Byblos, Lebanon.

Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 3800–c. 3350 BC). Considered to correspond to the Halafian culture of North Syria and Mesopotamia, its type-site, Tulaylat al-Ghassul, is located in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea in modern Jordan and was excavated in the 1930s.

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, and migrated southwards from Syria into Israel. Houses were trapezoid-shaped and built mud-brick, covered with remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians were a Chalcolithic culture as they also smelted copper.

Funerary customs show evidence that they buried their dead in stone dolmens.

Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and may have had trading affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.

Ghassulian culture replaced the Minhata and Yarmukian culture, and seems to have developed in part from a fusion of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B in the Amuq Valley, with Minhata and nomadic pastoralists of the circum Arabian nomadic pastoral complex. It was associated with the Older Peron, which began in the 5000 BCE to 4900 BCE era, and lasted to about 4100 BCE, a period of generally clement and balmy weather conditions that favored plant growth.

The Ghassulian phase seems to have been formative for the Canaanite civilization – in which a chalcolithic structure pioneered a Mediterranean mixed economy, involving the intensive subsistence production of horticultural fruit and vegetables, extensive farming of grains and cereals, transhumance and nomadic pastoral systems of animal husbandry, and commercial production (as in Crete) of wine and olives.

Ayn Ghazal is a Neolithic archaeological site located in metropolitan Amman, Jordan, about 2 km north-west of Amman Civil Airport. The settlement at ‘Ain Ghazal (“Spring of the Gazelle”) first appeared in the MPPNB and is split into two phases. Phase I starts circa 8,300 BC and ends c. 7,950 BC, while phase II ends c. 7,550 BC.

In its prime era circa 7000 BC, the site extended over 10–15 hectares (25–37 ac) and was inhabited by ca. 3000 people (four to five times the population of contemporary Jericho). After 6500 BC, however, the population dropped sharply to about one sixth within only a few generations, probably due to environmental degradation, the 8.2 kilo-year event.

Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b2 has been found in 75% of the ‘Ain Ghazal population, along with 60% of PPNB populations (and is present in all three stages of PPNB) and in most Natufians. T1a (T-M70) is found among the later Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (MPPNB) inhabitants from ‘Ain Ghazal, but was not found among the early and middle MPPNB populations.

It is thought, therefore, that the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B population is mostly composed of two different populations: members of early Natufian civilisation and a population resulting from immigration from the north, i.e. north-eastern Anatolia. It is hypothesized that T1* (if not some of its subclades) spread into Europe and North Africa with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B culture (PPNB).

Juris Zarins has proposed that pastoral nomadism began as a cultural lifestyle in the wake of the 6200 BC climatic crisis when Harifian pottery making hunter-gatherers in the Sinai, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt, fused with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B agriculturalists of the Munhata culture, which had a nomadic lifestyle based on animal domestication.

The Yarmukian culture was a Pottery Neolithic A (PNA) culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery. The Yarmukian derives its name from the Yarmouk River, which flows near its type site of Sha’ar HaGolan, near Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan at the foot of the Golan Heights.

Excavations at Sha’ar HaGolan unearthed an 8,000-year-old village and artifacts that include the first pottery cooking pots found in the Land of Israel. This Neolithic Yarmukian village was inhabited by the people who abandoned their nomadic lifestyle in favor of permanent settlement, marking the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture.

The Munhatta culture was an archaeological site 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) south of Lake Tiberias, Israel on the north bank and near the outlet of Nahal Tavor (Tabor Stream), rapid cultural development continues. The Munhata culture developed into the Yarmoukian and thence into a circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral complex, and spreading Proto-Semitic languages.

Radio-carbon dating of the site had large stated errors due to problematic dating materials but gave dates between ca. 7210 and 5420 BC. These provide a vague suggestion of the age of the site. This equates generally with the PPNB stages of Jericho and Beidha suggesting that occupations overlapped with these sites and a date of occupation during the middle and late 7th millennium BC.

Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC). Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al-Ghassul), is located in the eastern Jordan Valley near the northern edge of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan.

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who had immigrated from the north and settled in the southern Levant – today’s Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian culture of Upper Egypt (4000 to 3500 BC), also called Naqada I, and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.

There are several locations proposed as possible sites for prehistoric origins of Semitic-speaking peoples: Mesopotamia, the Levant, Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa. The most recent Bayesian studies supporting the view that Semitic originated in the Levant circa 3800 BC, and was later also introduced to the Horn of Africa in approximately 800 BC.

A Bayesian phylogenetic analysis has estimated that Semitic languages originated in the Levant around 3,750 BCE, during the Early Bronze Age. It evolved into three groups: East Semitic (an extinct branch that comprised Akkadian), Central Semitic (which gave rise to Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew and Arabic), and South Semitic (South Arabian and Ethiopian).

J1-P58, the Central Semitic branch of J1, appears to have expanded from the southern Levant (Israel, Palestine, Jordan) across the Arabian peninsula during the Bronze Age, from approximately 3,500 to 2,500 BCE. Camels were domesticated in Somalia and southern Arabia c. 3,000 BCE, but did not become widely used in the southern Levant before approximately 1,100 BCE.

Camels played an important role in the further diffusion of J1-P58 lineages, notably with the Bedouins in the desertic parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Bedouins now make up a substantial percentage of the population of Sudan (33%), Libya (15%), the United Arab Emirates (8%) and Saudi Arabia (5%).

The two most common Jewish subclades of J1 downstream of P58 are Z18297 and ZS227. The latter includes the Cohanim haplotype. Most of the other branches under P58 could be described as Semitic, although only FGC12 seems to be genuinely linked to the medieval Arabic expansion from Saudi Arabia.

Based on very limited data, the main Lebanese subclades of J1 appear to be J1-Z640 and J1-YSC76. Both subclades have also been found in Sicily, Andalusia and Portugal, which suggests that they were already found among the Phoenicians.

However, since the Arabs conquered the same regions as those colonised by the Phoenicians, it is too early to reach such a conclusion. Subclades found in Sardinia are very useful as practically all J1-P58 on the island were supposedly brought by the Phoenicians. They include Z18297 (could also be Jewish), Z2324>YP4763, YSC76>FGC15940>ZS1690 and YSC76>FGC8223>FGC8216>FGC8196.

Mega Sites

The Levant has been one of the focuses for the study of Neolithization and thedevelopment of complex societies in human history. The Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period (from 7600 to 7000 cal BC) is considered asignificant turning point, as many scholars have noted the emergence of ultra-large settlements (mega sites) during this period.

Notable examples include ‘Ain Ghazal, Basta, Wadi Shu’eib, and Beisamoun in the southern Levant andTell Abu Hureyra, Tell Halula, and Tellel-Kerkh in the northern Levant. There are also examples of mega sites in central Anatolia, such as As¸ıklı Höyük and Çatalhöyük.

Curiously, however, the regions east of the Euphrates lack any evidence of Neolithic megasites. Therefore, the Levant has been the most significant region in consideringthe emergence of mega sites in West Asia.

These mega sites sometimes exceed 10 ha, making them comparable to thesmall cities of later periods. However, issues concerning their characteristics have been controversial. Some scholars call them “regional centers” and regardthem as centers for the development and diffusion of new concepts andtechniques.

Other scholars are skeptical about the size of these settlements and believe that they merely appear to be large because of asequential accumulation of smaller settlements. They suggest that there was no qualitative difference between large and small settlements.

The Ghab Plain is a fertile depression lying mainly in the Al-Suqaylabiyah District in northwest Syria. The Orontes River, flowing north, enters the Plain near Muhradah, around 25 km north-west of Hama.

The valley was flooded for centuries by the waters of the Orontes River, which rendered it a swamp. The “Ghab project”, beginning in the 1950s, drained the valley to make it habitable, arable land, providing an extra 41,000 hectares (160 sq mi) of irrigated farmland.

Northeast of the Ghab Plain is found another smaller plain, known as the Rouj Plain or Rouj basin.[8] It is located between the Ghab Plain, and Amouk Plain. This is an agriculturally prosperous enclave just west of the town of Idlib. Many ancient archaeological sites are located there.

The Neolithic settlement at Tell el-Kerkh was not merely large in appearance but was truly large, about 16 ha, during a significantterm of the Rouj 1c period (LPPNB). However, in the subsequent Rouj 2 periods, the settlement shrank to c. 7 ha in the Rouj 2a-b period, c. 6 ha in theRouj 2c period, and to less than 1ha in the Rouj 2d period. Therefore, if we can define a mega site as a settlement larger than 10 ha, the Rouj 1c settlement atTell el-Kerkh is the only mega site in the Rouj Basin.

Many scholars have pointed out that mega sites appeared and expanded in the Late PPNB period in each region of the Levant and that, at the beginning of the Pottery Neolithic period, there was a collapse in the PPNB way of life,eliminating the mega site throughout the Levant. 

An extramega site appeared in the Rouj Basin and expanded during the Rouj 1c period. The reduction in settlement size at Tell el-Kerkh did not occur as drastically in the following Rouj 2a-b period, but the transition in settlement size from the Rouj 1c to the Rouj 2d periods fundamentally corresponds to those in other regions of the Levant.

If we consider the meaning of a mega site, it is necessary to investigatesome aspects of social complexity. For the Rouj 2c and 2d periods, we havealready some evidence of communal storage, communal cemetery, craftspecialization, long-distance trade, the concept of ownership, and ritual practices, all of which indicate the existence of complicated societies.

As the Rouj 1c layers have not yet been excavated asextensively, we have not yet obtained enough evidence to explain this socialcomplexity. However, blade blank caches with a large number of sickle elements, a large obsidian primary core, a storehouse furnished with at least fourteen large bins, a magnetite axe, a flog-shaped pendant (ibid.), and many other structures and objects discovered from the Rouj1c context indicate communal storage, long-distance trade, and sophisticated craftsmanship, suggesting a considerable level of social complexity. Thoughfurther discussion of the social complexity of the Rouj 1c community wouldrequire an additional study, all of this suggests that the Rouj 1c settlement wasfar beyond an ordinary village in a rural area.

 

Middle East

History of the Middle East

Prehistory of the Levant

History of the ancient Levant,

Timeline of Middle Eastern history

Eastern Mediterranean

Near East

Near Eastern archaeology

Ancient Near East

Cradle of civilization

Fertile Crescent

Upper Mesopotamia

History of Mesopotamia

Epipaleolithic Near East

Neolithic, Chalcolithic

Neolithic Revolution

Urban revolution

Natufian culture

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

Pre-Pottery Neolithic C

Pottery Neolithic

Pre-history of the Southern Levant

History of pottery in the Southern Levant

Syro-Palestinian archaeology

Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi

Proto-Semitic homeland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Mesopotamia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_Aurignacian

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipalaeolithic_Near_East

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Pottery_Neolithic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Pottery_Neolithic_A

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Pottery_Neolithic_B

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natufian_culture

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Mediterranean

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Asia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesopotamia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tigris%E2%80%93Euphrates_river_system

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertile_Crescent

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeogenetics_of_the_Near_East

 

Maps

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: